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Hanowski sparks Flyers past Willmar

Ben Hanowski, right, of Little Falls battles for the puck in the corner with Willmar defenseman Jake Tone in the first period at the Willmar Civic Center on Tuesday. Hanowski accounted for five points in the Flyers's 8-2 Central Lakes Conference win. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR -- You know there's someone special in the building when there's an autograph line outside the visitors' locker room.

A half-dozen Willmar youth hockey players, programs in hand, waited for Ben Hanowski, the Little Falls' senior who will soon become the all-time scoring leader in the state of hockey.

The Flyers' 6-foot-2 center scored two goals and dished out three assists on Tuesday evening at the Civic Center as the Flyers topped Willmar, 8-2.

That leaves the St. Cloud State recruit two points short of tying the Minnesota boys hockey all-time record for points of 378.

"Honestly, I don't worry about that," said Hanowski, who now has 178 goals (the state record) and 198 assists for 376 points. "We're trying to get ready for the playoffs. We want to get back to state. That's where the fun is."

Hanowski scored from the slot in the third minute and again on a solo breakaway in the eighth minute. He had one assist each period.

Afterwards, Willmar defenseman and captain Paul Schrupp said the all-senior Hanowski-Wesley Waytashek-Riley Hirsh line is probably the "best in the state. They pass the puck better than any line you'll see."

And the Flyers (15-0, 24-0) deserve there top ranking in Class A, the junior added.

Willmar did score twice on Flyers' goalie Michael Sperl (1.52 goals against average) -- Rory Schneider in the first frame and Grant Schow in the second.

Willmar goalie Ben Leitch made 29 saves, some spectacular, but the Flyers' ability to shift the puck and hit the openings resulted in scoring seven or more goals for the 15th time this season.

Willmar seeds in Section 3A today and will host Fergus Falls on Thursday.

Hanowski will likely get the record on Thursday when the Flyers host St. Cloud Apollo.

Little Falls 8, Willmar 2

Little Falls (15-0, 24-0) 5 1 2 -- 8

Willmar (4-11, 9-13) 1 1 0 -- 2

FIRST PERIOD - LF: Ben Hanwoski (Isaak Berglund, Wesley Waytashek) 2:36 ... LF: Hanowski (Riley Hirsch) 7:41 ... LF: Hirsch (Waytashek) 7:54 ... LF: Hirsch (Jordan Gosiak, Michael Sperl), pp, 9:30 ... Wil: Rory Scheider (Trent Fader), pp, 11:15 ... LF: Gosiak (Waytashek, Hanwoski) 15:10

SECOND PERIOD - Wil: Grant Schow (Liam Johnston, Gabe Amon) 7:49 ... LF: Hirsch (Hanowski) 15:16.

THIRD PERIOD - LF: Ben Nelson (Hanowski), 2:22 .... LF: Waytashek )Hanowski, Berglund), sh, 7:34

GOALIE SAVES - Little Falls: Michael Sperl 8-10-8--26 ... Willmar: Ben Leitch 7-13-9--29