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No. 10 Moorhead gets message from coaches, rolls Breck

Jack Stetz, 21, of Moorhead celebrates his first goal against Breck in the first period of their boys hockey game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 2
Jack Stetz of Moorhead gets into position for his second goal against Breck in the first period of their boys hockey game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 2

MOORHEAD—Messages were sent without a word being said far before Moorhead's boys hockey team rolled Breck 13-1 on Saturday at Moorhead Sports Center. After getting shut out by section rival Brainerd on Thursday, the first time the Spuds had been shut out in 36 games, lines were changed, names were left off the line charts and there was a change in net for the Spuds.

"We tried to get through to kids in different ways, and today was hopefully a starting point of sending a message that we're going to do our best as coaches to give kids an opportunity to succeed, but the kids need to start following through too," Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman said.

The message was received Saturday, but whether or not it will stick is yet to be seen.

"I think we got a message from coach that your spot is not guaranteed, and you got to work hard every single game," Moorhead senior captain Cole O'Connell said.

The top forward line of O'Connell, Jack Stetz and Carter Randklev was split up for the first time in nearly 50 games and backup goalie Ethan Miller was starting in net Saturday. Some names were left off the line chart all together, as Moorhead coaches said they want players to earn their names being listed. Those players played in the junior varsity game on Saturday.

"Accountability is never a bad thing in any way shape or form," Ammerman said. "I think the kids are responding, but it was just one day. We'll see if it carries out. We still have a month, but time is starting to wind down. We need to start to see results."

Initially, the message wasn't heard loud and clear, as Breck scored less than two minutes into the game on a deflection off the stick of Matthew Conroy. Stetz stuffed home a rebound for a power-play goal less than four minutes later to tie it and scored off another rebound five minutes later to give the Spuds (11-6) the lead. They never looked back, as 14 different Moorhead players had points.

Kyler Kleven and O'Connell swapped lines at the center position, as the Randklev-Kleven-Stetz line finished with six points and the No. 2 line of Isaac Henkemeyer-Howe, O'Connell and Parker Dronen finished with 10 points.

"I think it was a wakeup call in the section that we have to work hard every day and come to the rink ready to play," said Henkemeyer-Howe, who had a hat trick and an assist Saturday. "I think we figured out that the game is fun. We weren't playing like it was fun. We were playing more serious. It's a serious game, but we have to have fun playing it."

Breck, which is ranked No. 12 in Class 1A, had no chance in the second period. The Mustangs (3-9) put three shots on net, while the Spuds put five shots into the back of the net. Henkemeyer-Howe bookmarked the period with two goals to get a hat trick, while O'Connell, Ethan Frisch and Randklev scored in between. The third was a countdown more than a period of hockey, highlighted by Cullen Gess scoring the first and second goals of his varsity career.

"It was kind of a kick in the butt," Stetz said of the loss to Brainerd. "I wouldn't say we played bad. We weren't taking that one extra step to get that goal. We had many opportunities. We could've buried more than what we did. Now we realize what we have to do."

Spuds will get an opportunity next week to show whether they've woken up, hosting No. 13 Andover on Monday before playing No. 9 Centennial for Hockey Day Minnesota in St. Cloud on Saturday, Jan. 20.

"Our kids are putting forth the effort. It's just some details that we have to clean up," Ammerman said. "Hopefully this was a good reset. On Thursday, it was a disappointing result, but at this point in the season it's five to 10 plays that make or break a game. Our attention to detail hasn't been good the last two weeks."

FIRST PERIOD: 1, B, Conroy (Klopp), 1:41. 2, M, Stetz (Kleven), 5:01, (pp). 3, M, Stetz (Randklev, O'Connell), 10:10. 4, M, Henkemeyer-Howe (Dronen, Kvalevog), 13:31.

SECOND PERIOD: 5, M, Henkemeyer-Howe, 1:41. 6, M, O'Connell (Larson, Dronen), 4:41. 7, M, Frisch (Johnson, Stafford), 5:43. 8, M, Randklev (Frisch), 12:13. 9, Henkemeyer-Howe (O'Connell), 16:06.

THIRD PERIOD: 10, M, O'Connell (Henkemeyer-Howe), 2:36. 11, M, Horan (Stafford, Johnson), 3:13. 12, M, Kleven (Gramer), 5:31. 13, M, Gess (Larson), 8:28. 14, M, Gess, 13:56.

SAVES: B, Olness 11-x-10—21, Madson x-16-0—16. M, Miller 4-3-2—9.

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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