Skaters come up short in debut
by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school hockey team returned to the ice Jan. 16 but fell 5-1 to Burnett County (Wis.) in a COVID-delayed season-opener.
The Timberwolves, who have only one senior and one junior, will be the youngest team on the ice in all of their 15 contests this winter but they were competitive for much of the contest with the Blizzard, who had already played about a dozen games and had numerous upperclassmen.
The most impressive was junior captain Dane Tollander, who had a natural hat trick and finished with four of his team’s five goals.
Senior Jimmy Zupancich had the only goal for the Wolves, a third-period tally aided by eighth-grader Jack Mathias and sophomore Jakson Hegman.
On a quiet afternoon at the Ely Arena, with attendance limited because of COVID restrictions, the visitors got on the board first.
Tollander’s wrister from inside the blue line got past a screened Ely netminder - junior Chase Sandberg - and the Blizzard took a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the contest.
Winning goaltender Garrett Logan turned back a Zupancich break later in the frame, and the Blizzard got a backbreaking goal late in the first period.
After the Wolves had applied pressure with under a minute to go, the Blizzard got the puck out of their own end and Tollander made it 2-0, with 27 seconds left in the period, with assists from Chance Lessard and Logan Hopkins.
Tollander and Will Gerber added second-period goals and the Wolves were in a difficult spot heading into the final frame.
Zupancich, who had 14 points last winter and is Ely’s top returning scorer, helped the hosts avert the shutout but Tollander responded with his fourth goal of the afternoon.
Gerber had a goal and two assists for the winners and Hopkins finished with two assists, while Logan wound up with 10 saves.
Sandberg wound up with 29 stops for the Wolves, who hosted Greenway’s junior varsity Thursday, after deadline, and have a Jan. 26 trip to Coleraine to meet the Greenway varsity.