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Boys Hockey: Litchfield/DC edges Cards

Willmar goalie Derek Baker, left, get help from his defensemen, Austin Hilding and Trey Tollefson (18) to deflect and Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato charge by Jed Nikula (14) and Ethan Niemela in the first period at Cardinal Arena on Friday. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton.

WILLMAR -- It's been four years since Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato and Willmar had a date at the hockey rink.

It was worth waiting for.

Before the largest crowd in recent memory, the Dragons squeezed out a 4-3 victory on Friday night.

The Civic Center office put the paid attendance, including Willmar student passes, at 800, exclusive of the Cardinal pep band.

There were few dull moments. The skating was crisp, the hits jarring and the stick work solid for so early - and the fans behaved.

LDC never trailed. It was 2-2 after two periods.

Max Hyberger scored on a close-in backhand skating underneath the Willmar defense to put LDC in front 9:30 into the third period. John Raisanen's power-play slap shot through a screen from the top of the slot made it 4-2 with 5:24 left in the third.

Willmar came right back with Cam Swenson scoring at 13:39 but the Dragons and goalie Braeden Wahl allowed no more; he ended with 22 saves.

Willmar gave LDC 7 powerplays while the Cardinals skated with a man advantage just once.

"We were in the penalty box too much, nearly a whole period," said Willmar coach Dan Tollefson. "Litchfield was disciplined, their goalie made some big saves in the second period and their defensemen blocked a lot of shots but this was a good game and exciting to see so many fans."

Derek Baker had another good game in goal, making 20 stops for Willmar.

Reid Nelson scored on deflection on a power play for a 1-0 LDC lead. Preston Peterson's first varsity goal tied it before Raisanen got the first of his two goals. Sophomore defenseman Jed Nikula finished with three assists.

Hunter Schneider's shorthanded goal tied the score 2-2 through two periods.

Litchfield/DC 4, Willmar 3

LDC (2-0) 1 1 2 -- 4

Willmar (1-1) 0 2 1 -- 3

FIRST PERIOD - LDC: Reid Nelson (Jed Nikula, Cole O'Brien) 7:52, pp

SECOND PERIOD - Wil: Preston Peterson (Cam Swenson) 2:57 ... LDC: John Raisanen (Nikula) 9:45 ... Wil: Hunter Schneider 13:12, shorthanded

THIRD PERIOD - LDC: Max Hyberger (Mike Spreiter, Raisanen) 9:30 ... LDC: Raisanen (Nikula) 12:36, powerplay ... Wil: Cam Swenson (Trey Tollefson) 13:39

GOALIE SAVES - Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato: Braeden Wahl 8-11-3-22... Willmar: Derek Baker 5-6-9-20