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Junior Hockey: Willmar WarHawks lose their opener late

Granite City scores twice in the final 6:30 to beat Willmar, 4-2

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The logo of the new Willmar WarHawks, a NA3HL junior hockey franchise.
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SAUK RAPIDS — A win eluded the Willmar WarHawks in their season-opening NA3HL junior hockey game on Saturday night.

Tied 2-2 with 6 minutes, 30 seconds to go, the Granite City Lumberjacks scored two unanswered goals on the way to a 4-2 victory at the Armadillo Deck Sports Arena.

At 14:52 of the third period, Tucker Skime scored the game-winning goal for Granite City. Then with 25 seconds remaining, Kyle Mortenson scored an empty-net goal to put the game out of reach.

Down 1-0 in the first, Michael Sweetland popped in the WarHawks’ first goal of the season with a power-play tally at 16:59. Ben Tarlton was credited with an assist. Sweetland is a forward from Stillwater and the team’s captain. Tarlton is a defenseman from La Porte, Texas.

The Lumberjacks retook the lead late in the second on a power-play goal by Luke Delzer. At 13:30 of the third, Brady Fairbanks tied the game back up with an unassisted goal. Fairbanks is a defenseman from Oakdale.

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Granite City goaltender Xander Roberts stopped 21 shots. Will Kunka had 35 saves for Willmar. Kunka is from Moorhead.

The two teams combined for 22 penalties for 86 minutes.

The WarHawks travel to Breezy Point at 7:30 p.m. Friday to play the Minnesota Loons. Then at 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Willmar has its home debut against the Alexandria Blizzard at the Willmar Civic Center.

Granite City 4, Willmar 2

Willmar (0-1-0)            1     0     1 — 2
Granite City (3-0-0)     1     1     2 — 4
FIRST PERIOD –  (1) GC: Sam Brennan 1 (Luke Delzer 2, Kyle Mortenson 2), 15:02 PP … (2) W: Michael Sweetland 1 (Ben Tarlton 1), 16:59 PP. PENALTIES: (1) W: Gunnar Sibley (hooking-minor), 6:34 … (2) W: Christian Kankelfrtitz (checking from behind-minor), 8:53 … (3) W: Marcus Mack (roughing-minor), 13:48 … (4) GC: Brett Robinson (roughing-minor), 13:48 … (5) W: Tyler Misialek (roughing-minor), 14:02 … (6) W: Sweetland (roughing-minor), 14:02 … (7) GC: George Moore (roughing-minor), 14:02 … (8) GC: Dayne Deanovich (slashing-minor), 16:41 … (9) W: Sibley (cross checking-minor, 2 min), 19:20.
SECOND PERIOD –  (3) GC: Delzer 2 (Mortenson 3, Jacob McPartland 3), 19:40 PP. PENALTIES: (10) W: Misialek (roughing-minor) 10:03 … (11) GC: Mortenson (cross checking-minor), 10:03 … (12) W: Braydon Buckingham (boarding-minor), 17:53.
THIRD PERIOD – (4) W: Brady Fairbanks 1 (unassisted), 13:30 … (5) GC: Tucker Skime 1 (Mortenson 4), 14:52 … (6) GC: Mortenson 4 (unassisted), 19:35 EN. PENALTIES: (13) W: Luke McCarthy (holding-minor), 5:46 … (14) W: Luc Corbin (cross checking-minor), 16:06 … (15) GC: Reed Hanus (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor), 16:06 … (16) W: Gavin Simon (fighting-major), 16:58 … (17) W: Simon (fighting under 5 minutes-misconduct), 16:58 … (18) GC: Delzer (fighting under 5 minutes-misconduct), 16:58 … (19) GC: Delzer (fighting-major), 16:58 … (20) W: Jordan Fields (roughing-minor), 18:32 … (21) GC: Andrew Butler (roughing-minor), 18:32 … (22) GC: Addy Powell (cross checking-minor), 19:50.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Willmar: Will Kunka 35/38 … Granite City: Xander Roberts 21/23.

Recent hockey coverage:
Recent hockey coverage in west central Minnesota.
Prep hockey report from west central Minnesota for Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. Sartell/Sauk Rapids hangs on for a 3-2 win over Cardinals

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