Willmar arrived back in Alexandria, MN with hopes of another victory. After two thrilling periods and a tied score of 2-2, Willmar just could not hang on in the 3rd.
The WarHawks jumped out early to a 1-0 lead when Jack Willis scored his 2nd of the year. Late in the first, Caleb Strong tied it at 1-1 for the Blizzard moments after they killed off a 5-minute major penalty. Nikolai Rajala set up Strong off a nice 2 on 1 feed. Willmar did not lose the momentum though as Tyler Corbid scored his 4th goal of the year to put the WarHawks up 2-1 after one. Matthew Thompson scored the lone goal of the 2nd period evening the score at 2-2 and setting up another thrilling 3rd period. Logan Stellmach and Ben Tschida set up Thompson for his first Junior Hockey career goal. Alexandria went up 3-2 a minute and a half into the 3rd period when Carter Rieland buried his 1st of the year. Dallas Duckson and Wyatt Johnson picked up the assists. Willmar wasn’t done though as Michael Sweetland tied the game at 3-3 at the 8:16 mark of the 3rd, but the Blizzard took over after that. With just over five minutes left, it was Rieland with his second goal of the game executing a nice 2 on 1 with him and Nikolai Rajala. Strong added an empty netter for his team-leading 5th goal of the season, and Joey Greilich made 26 saves for his first victory in net. Strong and Rieland each had 2 goal nights, and Nikolai Rajala helped out with 3 assists
Willmar finished off their weekend road trip on Saturday night at Granite City. The Lumberjacks out shot the WarHawks 17-3 in the first period but only led 1-0 thanks to some great goaltending by Hunter Burian. Granite City opened it up in the 2nd period with three goals in the first nine minutes. Willmar’s Michael Sweetland pulled the WarHawks within 4-1 with his 2nd goal of the weekend with assists from Kaleb Miller and Cayden Sunde. That was as close as Willmar got though, as the Lumberjacks tacked on two more in the 3rd period for a 6-1 final. “I thought we played really well at times. We showed that we could be a really good team when we moved our feet and played physical. However, when we stopped moving our feet and playing physical the other teams in this divisions will make us pay,” said Coach Kirk Olimb.
Willmar is finally home this weekend after spending the first three weeks on the road. They host North Iowa in their home opener on Friday night, and New Ulm comes to town Saturday. The puck drops both nights at 7:10 pm CDT. Purchase your tickets online at tickets.willmarwarhawks.com
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