January 11, 2023 at 5:35 p.m.

Hats off

Hats off
Hats off

By Evan Michealson- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Fletcher, Rieland’s three goals propel North Stars to victory

With the offensive firepower this Prairie Centre North Stars boys’ hockey team possesses, the hard-to-achieve feat of a hat trick is becoming more and more of a common theme in the story arc of a promising, exciting squad. 

Eli Fletcher and James Rieland both picked up three-goal performances against the Breckenridge-Wahpeton Blades Jan. 10, while sophomore goaltender Carter Holman earned his first career shutout in a well-executed 8-0 victory at Todd County Expo Arena in Long Prairie.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important in sports than confidence, and I think confidence is growing for our group in all three phases,” said Chad Wehrman, head coach. “You’ve got to go out and do the things you’re supposed to do.”

Four first-period goals certainly give a confidence boost, as the North Stars discovered. The senior Fletcher provided an immediate jolt with two goals in the first 6 minutes and 15 seconds, while Rieland, the only freshman among the top 10 scorers in Section 6A, added two goals before the end of the period.

“He’s beyond his years.” Wehrman said of Rieland. “You’ve got to have a goal scorer’s mentality, you’ve got to have that will to want to score goals and do what it takes, and he does. He sees the ice well, he’s relentless on the forecheck and turns pucks over (on defense).”

The offense did not relent, as 34 total shots resulted in eight goals, the first time the team has reached that mark. Derick Sorenson tallied his second game goal in as many games, while Zac Bick added an even-strength, unassisted score in the third period.

“We watch quite a bit of film and made small changes to our forecheck and positioning,” Wehrman said. “We’re getting shots in the prime areas, and when you have guys who can shoot the puck and go to the net, good things will happen.”

This explosion of efficient scoring helped out Holman, who grabbed all 18 of the shots he faced for a clean game in the net and a milestone moment. 

“His positioning has gotten better and he’s worked very hard on it in practice, along with (fellow goaltender) Noah Zinniel,” Wehrman said. “It’s something we try to work on daily.”

The full three-phase effort included a clutch showing from the Prairie Centre skaters in the defensive zone, as the North Stars broke the puck out without committing costly turnovers or creating breakdowns in puck coverage.

“The guys have been working on a few changes to our breakouts and just being attentive in the D-zone in front of the net,” Wehrman said.

Overall, it was a remarkable outing for the North Stars, who improved to 5-5 on the season after starting the campaign 1-4. Prairie Centre will aim for win No. 6 against Becker/Big Lake at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at Todd County Expo Arena in Long Prairie. 

“The boys are buying into the fact that nothing is given,” Wehrman said. “You have to earn everything you get.”

BW    0    0    0     0

PC     4    3     1     8

First period: 1. Fletcher (Rieland) 3:19. 2. Fletcher (Jesse Williams, Rieland) 6:15. 3. Rieland (Fletcher, Williams) 9:43. 4. Rieland (Williams, Fletcher) 14:30. Second period: 5. Sorenson (Bick, Aiken Lambrecht) 1:09. 6. Rieland (Fletcher) 3:20. 7. Fletcher (Williams) 10:16. Third period: 8. Bick 3:00. Goalie: Holman 18-18.

Prairie Centre 6,

Park Rapids 1

There is nothing that can seemingly slow down Fletcher.

The senior forward rode a hot stick against the Park Rapids Panthers Jan. 9, firing home the first four goals of the game in a commanding 6-1 North Stars victory at Todd County Expo Arena in Long Prairie.

Several playmakers found Fletcher at the right time and produced solid offense. Rieland compiled a goal and three assists, while Williams added two apples.

Two of Fletcher’s goals gave Prairie Centre a big 2-0 lead after one period, and after a scoreless second, the North Stars exploded for four goals to put the game away and improve to 4-5.

This brilliant six-goal, 31-shot offensive performance supplemented an excellent night in net for Holman, who denied the Panthers time and time again in making 30 saves. His .968 save percentage was a then-season high for the sophomore goaltender.

PR 0    0    1    1

PC 2    0    4 6

First period: 1. Fletcher (Keegan Christians, Owen Christians) 2:00. 2. Fletcher (Rieland) 13:50. Third period: 3. Fletcher (Williams, Rieland) 1:38. 4. Fletcher (Williams, Rieland) 3:57. 5. Rieland (Fletcher) 10:40. 7. Sorenson (Kyle Sayovitz, Lambrecht) 13:31. Goalie: Holman 30-31.


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