Visitors foil hockey’s return to Babbitt Arena
It didn’t end with a victory, but high school boys hockey made a triumphant return of sorts to Babbitt.
Ron Castellano Arena was alive again Feb. 19, when the Ely Timberwolves hosted Bagley in what was only the second boys contest there in 27 years.
The visiting Flyers downed the Timberwolves 5-1, but nearly 200 fans came out to the fabled arena for the game.
The Timberwolves celebrated senior night and moved the contest to Babbitt to honor their only senior - Jimmy Zupancich.
Zupancich attends Northeast Range, but the two schools are combined in hockey and the Timberwolves opted to hold a home game in Babbitt this winter to recognize the senior.
His parents were introduced prior to the game, and family members as well as Northeast Range schoolmates were part of the gathering.
Zupancich also had a hand in the Wolves’ only goal - a second period tally by freshman Chase Anderson.
Anderson’s goal came late in the second period and with assists by Zupancich and sophomore Kole Macho.
But by then, the Flyers had built a 4-0 lead.
Beau Gunderson got Bagley on the board midway through the first period, and the Wolves battled gamely despite being outshot 25-7 in the opening frame.
The visitors scored two minutes apart in the second period, with Markus Olson’s short-handed, unassisted goal proving to be a backbreaker.
Olson and Parker Boe would score again in the period and Brett Merschman scored on the power play in the third.
Ely was outshot 63-11, with junior goalie Chase Sandberg coming up with 58 stops for the Wolves.
Winning netminder Kassandra Fontaine had 10 saves.
• The Wolves lost 11-0 to North Shore Tuesday in Two Harbors and took on Moose Lake Friday .
• Ely’s remaining home docket includes a Mar. 11 meeting with Duluth Marshall and a Mar. 12 date against the Eveleth-Gilbert junior varsity. Section 7A playoff action begins the following week.