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Boys hockey: Cardinals bounce Tech for fourth straight win

Willmar’s Evan VanDenEinde, left, and Isaac Kobienia scrap to keep the puck in the St. Cloud Tech zone in the second period on Thursday in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR — As the season winds down, the Willmar Cardinals are revving up.

The Cardinals topped St. Cloud Tech 4-2 on Thursday at the Cardinal Arena, extending their unbeaten streak to four with Alexandria coming up tonight at the Runestone Center to polish off the schedule leading into the playoffs.

Willmar will play a home game next Thursday in the Section 3A quarterfinals.

Evan VanDenEinde scored Willmar’s first two goals, T.J. Mattison the third for a 3-1 lead and after Tech made it 3-2, Isaac Kobiena added insurance.

Steady as usual, Levi Goosmann made 14 saves to keep his goals-against right around 2.5 and save percentage a fraction under 90 percent.

Willmar kept Tech’s high-scoring forwards, Riley Bates and Tanner Skaja, in check.

The offense threaded some fine passes, particularly Riley Grabow’s feed to Mattison crashing the net.

“Riley made a great move around the defenseman and a beautiful pass to T.J.,” said Willmar head coach Dan Tollefson. “Hunter Mottinger also made a sharp pass on Ike’s goal. Levi made some great saves and when we got a good look at the net we buried it.”

Kobienia’s goal was the sophomore right wing’s  team-leading 15th, one more than Mottinger, whose 14 assists leads.

Since this is the only meeting with the Tigers, the game was worth two points allowing the Willmar to leapfrog Tech into sixth place in the CLC.

The Tigers (6-8, 11-13), who lost their fourth in a row, play at Moorhead on Tuesday to open Section 8AA.

Willmar (4-7-1, 11-11-1) lost 3-2 on Dec. 12 to Alexandria, which is locked up with Brainerd at the top of the CLC standings going into the final night (Brainerd hosts Sauk Rapids).

Notes: Tech’s first first-line center Riley Bates is the son of Paul Bates (WHS ’82); starting sophomore defenseman Andrew Setrum is the son of Gary Setrum (WHS ’85).

Willmar 4, SC Tech 2

St. Cloud Tech (6-8, 11-13)             1  0  1 — 2

Willmar (4-7-1, 11-11-1)  1  1  2 — 4

FIRST PERIOD – Tec: Braden Altena (Connor Wendt, Riley Bates) 16:01 .. Wi: Evan Van DenEinde (Buzzy Tollefson, Nate Ackerman) 16:53, pp

SECOND PERIOD – Wil: VanDenEinde (Tyler Pendill) 6:28

THIRD PERIOD – Wil: TJ Mattison (Riley Grabow) 6:16 … Tec: Joey Mendel (Andrew Setrum) 7:20 … Wil: Isaac Kobienia (Hunter Mottinger) 11:05

GOALIE SAVES – St. Cloud Tech: Austin Althaus 5-12-7-24 … Willmar: Levi Goosmann 6-5-3-14

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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