Wolves skate past Moose Lake

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school hockey team has added to its victory total twice in the last week - both times at the expense of Moose Lake Area.
On the heels of an 11-5 victory over the Rebels during the North Shore Holiday Tournament, the Wolves traveled to Moose Lake Tuesday and came away with a 6-4 win.
Nick Mattila’s second goal of the night - an empty-netter with 35 seconds left - secured a hard-fought victory for the Wolves.
Ely improved to 3-6 and was able to make full use of its young roster against the Rebels.
“We came into the game with some confidence knowing we handled them last game,” said Ely Head Coach Ben Johnson. “But we knew they weren’t going to roll over. Both goalies played well and everybody got to contribute. The third and fourth lines got to play quite a bit.”
The Wolves fell behind early in Tuesday’s rematch, but Ely senior Thomas Montana countered late in the first period with back-to-back goals.
Junior Austin Meskill put the Wolves up 3-1 early in the second frame, but the Rebels’ Mark Fossum countered and trimmed the lead to one.
Ely regained momentum late in the second as Gage Merhar and Mattila scored - and both were assisted by Seann Prigge.
It turned out the Wolves needed the cushion as Moose Lake scored twice in the final period and had chances to get the equalizer before Mattila sealed the win.
Goalies Chase Sandberg and Tyler Housey split time, combining for 22 saves.
Mattila had a three-point night while Meskill and Merhar both finished with a goal and an assist.
“We only gave them one power play,” said Johnson. “It was nice to stay out of the box that’s for sure.”
Neither the Wolves nor the Rebels avoided the box in a penalty-filled consolation round matchup Dec. 29 at Two Harbors.
Ely won 11-5 with five goals in the opening frame and four more in the third, finishing with 41 shots on goal.
Both Olson and Mattila had hat tricks, with Mattila scoring a whopping six points for the afternoon.
Ely broke a 2-2 tie midway through the first period with goals by Olson, Merhar and Montana.
Mattila and Olson both scored in the second,
Back-to-back goals by Mattila helped close out the scoring in the final period.
Merhar and Montana finished with two goals each for the Wolves and Meskill had a goal and an assist.
Sandberg, an eighth-grader, turned away 23 shots en route to the victory.
The tournament opener was a heartbreaker for the Wolves, who led 3-0 against Mora-Milaca but fell 4-3 at Silver Bay.
“We outshot them but their goalie played great,” said Johnson. “The game could have gone either way. Five-on-five we played great, but penalties hurt us.”
The Wolves were whistled for 10 infractions, giving Mora-Milaca numerous power-play chances.
The Mustangs scored the game-winner with a man advantage.
Olson, Mattila and Merhar had first-period goals for the Wolves. Merhar’s came shorthanded.
In the tournament finale, Ely got goals from Dalton Schreffler and Olson, but Legacy Christian scored twice in the final period to secure a 5-2 consolation championship game victory.
Sandberg recorded 40 saves for the Wolves, who met International Falls Friday after deadline.
Ely hosts Eveleth-Gilbert at 7 p.m, Tuesday, Jan 9 at the Ely Arena.