Stonewalled on the shore
STRETCHING OUT FOR THE SAVE - Junior goalie Ben Leeson spread his pads in an effort to stop the puck. He had 29 stops as Ely downed Mora 2-1 on Saturday.
Ely upended by section opponent, but remains above the .500 mark
by Tom Coombe
Section wins have been hard to come by for Ely’s high school hockey team - and that was the case again Tuesday night in Silver Bay.
In a rematch of last season’s narrow first-round playoff defeat, the Timberwolves misfired on too many chances and took too many penalties in a 4-1 loss to Section 7A rival North Shore.
Two power play goals in the middle period put the Storm in front to stay, and Ely was blanked on a five-on-three situation and two other extra-skater opportunities in the third.
The Wolves fell to 3-2 on the season and dropped their first contest of the year against a section opponent.
“It was a tough loss,” said head coach Jake Myers. “It was a game that could have gone either way. A couple of penalties that we shouldn’t have taken was a difference maker. We took a five-minute penalty and they scored on that and it was the story of the night.”
Senior Ty Walker’s goal tied the game at one early in the second period, but the major penalty against the Wolves followed and Ethan Meeks broke the deadlock.
Jake Stadler scored on another power play and Kade Norman followed with an even strength goal to put the Storm up by three after two frames.
In the third, Ely outshot the Storm 9-4 but winning goalie Zach Bentler stood his opponents up and the Wolves failed on power play chances.
“We had a five-on-three for a couple minutes and then a power play for three extra minutes but their goalie played really well,” said Myers.
Walker had Ely’s only goal, with an assist from fellow senior Chase Anderson, while junior netminder Ben Leeson turned away 19 shots.
North Shore had four different goal scorers, although Stadler had three points overall and Norman had a two-point night.
The Wolves met Ashland on the road Thursday, after deadline, and Saturday’s home contest against Moose Lake (1 p.m.) is part of a 10-day stretch that also includes games against section opponents International Falls (Tuesday) and Greenway (Dec. 21).
“We’re off to a solid start but there’s room for improvement,” said Myers. “Overall I’m happy with the record and I’m hoping that rend of playing in competitive and tight games continues.
• Ely and North Shore skated to a 2-2 tie in Tuesday’s junior varsity game at Silver Bay’s Rukavina Arena.
Sophomore Hunter Halbakken and freshman Owen Marolt scored for Ely, which played its first junior varsity contest in several seasons.
• The Wolves split a two-home weekend homestand with Mora, rebounding Saturday for a 2-1 win after dropping a 4-1 decision the night before at the Ely Arena.
Senior Drew Marolt helped the Wolves pull things out in the series finale.
Ely’s top goal scorer so far this winter lit the lamp with four-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation, and the Wolves came through after an earlier goal was waved off.
Linemates Deegan Richards and Brecken Sandberg both assisted on Marolt’s game-winner, and Marolt also scored in the opening period on an assist from Deegan Richards.
Mora tied the game late in the second goal on a tally by Blake Bowen, but that was the only Mustang shot to evade Leeson who came up with 29 saves.
Penalties were costly for the Wolves in the Friday night opener as they committed six infractions in the final two periods.
Walker had Ely’s only goal, which came in the third period with assists from Sandberg and Tommy Homer, and Leeson recorded 20 saves.
Mora’s Jacob Szucs scored twice and teammate Charlie Kritzek added three assists. Austin Neyssen assisted on two goals while Trenton Fore contributed a goal and an assist.