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Willmar skid comes to halt

Willmar's James Johnston, left, tangles with Trent Wolleburg of Wadena-Deer Creek in the Cardinals offensive zone in the first period Thursday in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Willmar goalie Ben Leitch keeps his eye on the puck to make one of his eight first-period saves against Wadena-Deer Creek Thursday at the Civic Center. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

WILLMAR -- Junior Grant Schow came up with a hat trick on Thursday at the Civic Center and Willmar had little trouble rolling over Wadena-Deer Creek to snap a four-game losing streak.

Willmar is playing shorthanded this week. Senior defenseman Jake Tone is recovering from a concussion, junior forward Landon Peterson is in a sling after injuring his right shoulder in the first period at Brainerd Jan. 28. Top scorer Liam Johnston (16-10-26) has been out two days with an illness.

The victory gives Willmar a 5-4 record against Section 6A opponents and helps its chances for a first-round home game for the playoffs.

The Cardinals, 11-8 overall, play Central Lakes Conference and 6A foe Fergus Falls tonight at the Civic Center. The Otters (6-5-1, 9-7-3) have a 6-3-1 mark against section opponents, trailing Sartell 8-0-1) and Alexandria (6-1-1).

Schow's first goal, his 11th, came on a goal-mouth scrum and was good for a 1-0 lead after one period.

Stephen Reynolds and Schow scored 30 seconds apart in the second frame and James Johnston and Schow, again, tallied in the third.

Goalie Ben Leitch made 12 stops for the shutout. His counterpart, the Otters' Tyler Muehler, had 49 saves on a busy night.

Willmar 5, Wadena/DC 0

Wadena/DC (4-17) 0 0 0 -- 0

Willmar (11-8) 1 2 2 -- 5

FIRST PERIOD - Wil: Grant Schow (Paul Schrupp) 6:40

SECOND PERIOD - Wil: Stephen Reynolds (Tyler Woltjer) 5:31 ... Wil: Schow (Tyler Bredeson) 6:01)

THIRD PERIOD - Wil: James Johnston (unassisted) 12:47 ... Wil: Schow (Gabe Amon) 13:33

GOALIE SAVES - Wadena/Deer Creek: Tyler Muehler 49 ... Willmar: Ben Leitch 12