Junior hockey: WarHawks can’t continue good start

Willmar’s early 2-0 lead doesn’t hold up in 8-2 loss to Granite City

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Willmar's Nik Johnson fires a shot against Granite City on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at Willmar Civic Center.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The WarHawks got off to a hot start, punching in two goals in the first 45 seconds against Granite City, the top team in the NA3HL West Division, before falling 8-2 on Friday at Willmar Civic Center Arena.

Granite City, trailing 2-0 in the second period, scored five goals. Cody Weber had two, including the game-winning goal at 10:52. Jacob McPartland (5:50), Sam Brennan (12:45) and Finnigan Greeley (15:07) had the other three goals in the middle frame.

The Lumberjacks went on to add three more goals in the third period. Goaltender Paul Cassin stopped 44 of 46 shots to help fuel Granite City’s comeback.

Willmar totaled 71 penalty minutes on 16 infractions. Granite City put good use to its man advantages, scoring three power-play goals. McPartland and Greeley had power-play goals in the second and Ashton Ericksen notched the third at 3:45 of the third period.

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The WarHawks celebrate a goal by Michael Sweetland in the first period against Granite City on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at Willmar Civic Center.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Granite City had 12 players record at least one point and seven players had multi-point performances. Weber added one assist to his two goals. Lyncoln Bielenberg-Howarth and Ericksen both had one goal and two assists.


The WarHawks’ first goal of the game came 35 seconds into the contest. Tyler Misialek scored his 11th goal of the season off an assist by Gunnar Sibley.

Ten seconds later, Willmar captain Michael Sweetland found the back of the net for the 12th time this season. The assists went to Hudson Zinda, who made his Willmar debut, and Luke McCarthy.

Willmar plays the Minnesota Loons at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Breezy Point Hockey Center.

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Willmar's Sam Holm races after a loose puck with Granite City's Nolan Widman (left) and Sam Brennan (right) against Granite City on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at Willmar Civic Center.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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Granite City 8, Willmar 2

Granite City (29-3-0-1)          0     5     3 — 8
Willmar (14-18-2-0)                2     0     0 — 2

FIRST PERIOD –  (1) W: Tyler Misialek (unassisted), 0:35 … (2) W: Michael Sweetland (Hudson Zinda, Luke McCarthy), 0:45. PENALTIES: (1) GC: Finnigan Greeley (hooking-minor), 12:52 … (2) GC: Parker Comstock (elbowing-minor), 15:37 … (3) W: Jordan Fields (slashing-minor), 19:25.

SECOND PERIOD –  (3) GC: Coby Weber (Luke Delzer, Paul Hulgen), 4:17 … (4) GC: Jacob McPartland (unassisted), 5:50 PP … (5) GC: Weber (Lyncoln Bielenberg-Howarth), 10:52 … (6) GC: Sam Brennan (Zak Kennett), 12:45 … (7) GC: Tucker Skime (unassisted), 15:07 PP. PENALTIES: (4) W: Zinda (hooking-minor), 4:49 … (5) W: Spencer Bergman (tripping-minor), 8:45 … (6) W: Blaise Schutt (slashing-minor), 11:08 … (7) GC: Skime (slashing-minor), 11:08 … (8) W: Owen Johnston (roughing-minor), 11:24 … (9) GC: Nolan Widman (roughing-minor), 11:24 … (10) W: Sweetland (high sticking-minor), 14:16 … (11) W: McCarthy (roughing-minor), 15:07.

THIRD PERIOD – (8) GC: Ashton Ericksen (unassisted), 3:45 … (9) GC: Parker Mitchell (Dezler, Kyle Mortenson), 6:16 … (10) GC: Bielenberg-Howarth (Brennan, Matthew Delany) 15:20. PENALTIES: (12) W: Jake Hosszu (slashing-major), 2:41 … (13) W: Hosszu (slashing-game misconduct) … (14) W: Misialek (roughing-minor), 5:02 … (15) GC: Reed Hanus (tripping-minor), 5:05 … (16) W: Nik Johnson (slashing-minor), 7:06 … (17) Christian Kankelfritz (checking from behind-minor), 13:58 … (18) GC: Parker Comstock (cross checking-minor), 14:53 … (19) W: Sweetland (interference-minor), 15:16 … (20) W: Sweetland (unsportsmanlike conduct-major; ejection), 17:51 … (21) W: Sweetland (roughing-minor), 17:51 … (22) GC: Greeley (slashing-minor), 17:54 … (23) GC: Greeley (unsportsmanlike conduct-major; ejection), 18:17 … (24) Johnson (slashing-minor), 19:40.


GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Granite City: Paul Cassin 44/46 … Willmar: Michael D’Orazio 20/28

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Willmar's Braydon Buckingham skates near the blue line against Granite City on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at Willmar Civic Center.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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