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Impressive opening act

Willmar's Liam Johnson (20) scores the first of his five goals with Grant Schow beside him as Morris/Benson Area goalie Alex Sinclair sprawls while trying for the save on Tuesday at the Civic Center in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Ethan Ratcliff-Crain of Morris/Benson Area punches the puck off the stick of Willmar's Jake Tone during the second period Tuesday at the Civic Center's Cardinal Arena in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals dominated the puck and a young team from Morris/Benson Area to win a boys hockey opener 9-2 on Tuesday at the Civic Center.

Liam Johnston, a junior left wing, pounded the Storm net for five goals. Gabe Amon, the center on the all-junior first line, was good for the hat trick and defenseman Jake Tone assisted on three markers.

MBA goalie Alex Sinclair was a workhorse, turning away 40 shots. Perhaps 90 percent of the game was played in his front yard and the Cardinal attackers got many good looks.

Sinclair is one of only three seniors on a Storm team that has 11 sophomores and freshmen on an 18-player roster with no JV.

Still, they kept it close for the first 25 minutes. Tanner Picht's break-in goal made it 4-2 at 4:27 of the second.

But Johnston's third goal at 8:30 started a run and the period ended with the Cardinals up 7-2.

Ben Leitch faced just 11 shots in the Willmar net. Tyler Hansen got the other Storm goal on an end-to-end rush in which he faked out a defender at the blue line and sniped a 25-footer that temporarily tied the game 1-1.

Willmar will host the Central Lakes Conference foe River Lakes on Tuesday.

Willmar 9, MBA Storm 2

MBA 1 1 0 -- 2

Willmar 2 5 2 -- 9

FIRST PERIOD - Wil: Liam Johnston (Gabe Amon, Landon Peterson) 5:33 ... MBA: Tyler Hansen (unassisted) 7:39 ... Wil: Gabe Amon (Jake Tone) 12:47

SECOND PERIOD - Wil: L. Johnston (Grant Schow) :57 ... Wil: Grant Kallevig (Tone) 2::51 pp ... MBA: Tanner Picht (unassisted) 4:27 ... L. Johnson (unassisted) 8:30 ... Wil: Amon (Todd Gregg) 15:43, pp .. Wil: L. Johnston (Tone)) 16:37 pp

THIRD PERIOD - Wil: L. Johnston (Schow) 7:29, sh ... Wil: Amon (Stephen Reynolds) 115:17, pp

GOALIE SAVES - Morris/Benson Area: Alex Sinclair 10-18-12-49 ... Willmar: Ben Leitch 2-3-4-11