Skaters notch sixth victory

by Tom Coombe
It wasn’t as dramatic as the first encounter, but the Ely Timberwolves completed a regular season sweep of Bagley with a workmanlike performance at the Ely Arena.
Senior Gage Merhar scored twice, the Timberwolves built a decisive advantage in shots on goal and hung on in the final period for a 4-2 high school victory over the Flyers.
Section rival North Shore dominated the host Wolves 10-3 in a rare afternoon matinee Tuesday, but Ely has one last chance for a victory on the home ice.
That comes this Tuesday (Feb. 13), when the Wolves host Moose Lake in a pre-playoff tuneup. The Senior Night finale starts at 6 p.m.
Ely, now 6-12, has surprised some observers by reaching a half-dozen victories this winter and has a chance for another against Moose Lake, which has already fallen twice to the Wolves this season.
Ely now also owns two wins over Bagley, but the home matchup was more decisive than a January road date, won 9-8 by the Wolves in overtime.
No extra session was needed here as the Wolves controlled the first two stanzas.
Senior Thomas Montana got the hosts on the board early in the opening frame, as Luke Olson and Nick Mattila assisted.
Merhar took over in the second frame. Both times the forward was assisted by junior Austin Meskill.
Olson made it 4-0 as Mattila notched his second assist of the night, and the Wolves were firmly in control.
The Flyers made it interesting in the final period, when the Wolves extended their bench.
Griffin Brovold and Jarret Merschman scored for the Flyers, and Bagley threatended again with a late power-play chance.
Ely netminder Tyler Housey was up to the task, turning away a couple of scoring chances and finishing with 15 saves for the night.
Bagley goalie Jakob Dusek made 28 stops.
North Shore, which combines players from Two Harbors and Silver Bay high schools, scored five second-period goals to take control of this week’s game.
Mattila, who has a team-high 25 goals, got Ely on the board late in the first period. The junior forward broke past the North Shore defense and scored unassisted to make it a 3-1 game and give his team some momentum heading into the second period.
North Shore regained control almost immediately, as Chad Nordean, Ethan Sporn and David Anderson all scored within the first three minutes to make it a 6-1 game.
Montana and Olson scored second-period goals for the Wolves, but it was 8-3 after two frames and the Storm would add two third-period goals to put the game into running time.
Mattila had a hand in all three goals to raise his point total to 37 for the winter, tops among the Wolves.
Nordean and Sporn had two goals each for the Storm and winning goalie Connor Sullivan recorded 19 saves.
Housey and Chase Sandberg combined for 36 stops for the Wolves, who will open Section 7A playoff action on the road on Saturday, Feb. 17.
Duluth Denfeld, Hibbing and Eveleth-Gilbert are among the potential opponents..