The Crookston Pirates Boys Hockey team nearly erased a five-goal deficit during a furious come from behind effort before an empty-net goal iced the game with seconds to play for a 7-5 to the Kittson County Central Bearcats behind four goals from Tyler Hennen in a Section 8A game played in Hallock Tuesday night.

1st Period
The Pirates season got off to a strong start in the opening minutes as the Pirates recorded the first three shots on goal against Kittson County.  Following the opening salvo, the two teams played evenly fairly evenly over the next 10 minutes as both teams failed to take advantage of scoring opportunities. Kittson County would get the first power play of the evening and it took less than a minute for the Bearcats to capitalize. On the penalty kill, the Pirates attempted to clear the puck, but Hayden Olsonawski held the blue line and found Adam Gustafson who buried the puck for a 1-0 lead with 5:48 left to play in the period. The Pirates would get their first power-play opportunity with under a minute to play but didn’t score before the first intermission. “I was pretty pleased with the first period,” said Pirates Coach Josh Hardy. “I thought we played well. Obviously, they get on the power play and sneak one by us but overall a good period. We got our feet wet and got a bunch of guys their first varsity action.” Despite getting the first three shots on goal in the game, the Pirates were outshot 16-10 in the first period.

2nd Period
The second period got off to a bad start for the Pirates things progressively spiraled from there. The Bearcats Tyler Hennen forced a turnover on the penalty kill and outraced the Pirates to the front of the goal flipping the puck into the net for a shorthanded tally and a 2-0 lead just 28 seconds into the period. Following a Pirate penalty, Hennen took a buried a pass from Gustafson past the Pirates goaltender for his second goal a 3-0 lead 11:30 to play in the period. Less than 90 seconds later Hennen took a headman pass up ice, avoiding an attempted check by the defenseman before pulling the goaltender from the net by faking a backhand and sliding the puck into a wide-open net for the natural hat trick and a 4-0 lead with 10:03 to play. With 6:11 to play, a shot from Hennen was stopped by Pirates goaltender Noah Dragseth but Landon Sugden was johnny-on-the-spot to bang home the rebound for a 5-0 lead.  “We got in front of the snowball there instead of behind it,” said Hardy. “There were times in the second I thought things were clicking and there were times we looked lost. The message was I’d rather make mistakes being aggressive than mistakes being tentative. I thought we were really tentative in the second.” Two minutes the Bearcats again sprung Hennen who fired a long-range missile from the top of the right circle that went bar down off the crossbar before rebounding harmlessly away out off the ice. Late in the period, the Pirates would force an offensive zone faceoff that began to turn the tide of the game. Kaleb Thingelstad won the faceoff by firing the puck on goal off the goaltender’s pads and freshman Carter Trudeau was waiting on the doorstep to bury the rebound making it 5-1 with 2 seconds remaining in the period. “Carter scoring a goal is big,” said Hardy. “We always get excited when someone scores a goal, especially their first one. It wasn’t a great period for us but it was great to get a goal late to build some momentum into the third.” The Pirates were outshot 14-12 in the second period.

3rd Period
The Pirates immediately built on the momentum they took into the locker room on the Trudeau goal when Kaleb Thingelstad chipped his own rebound into the net cutting the lead to 5-2 just 32 seconds into the period. “Sitting in the coach’s room, we were talking about what we could do to score,” said Hardy. “We weren’t creating a ton of offense in the second period, so we move Kaleb to a line with Jack Doda and Alex Longoria. Credit to Al, Jack, and Kaleb for scoring in the third period but that second group of kids – two sophomores and a freshman (Trudeau, Nathan Kelly, and Zach Tahran) – played really well and didn’t get scored on in giving those other guys a chance to score.” Minutes later Noah Kiel wired a wrist shot through traffic just above the left leg of the Bearcats goaltender to cut the lead to 5-3 with 13:58 to play. A penalty would, however, put the Pirates shorthanded and as it had been earlier in the game, the penalty kill was once again the Pirates’ Achilles heel. Hennen was again the benefactor as he fired a shot from the blue line that appeared to have initially been stopped but then hit the ice and found the back of the net for a 6-3 lead with 10:12 to play. The Pirates kept battling and with 6:39 to play Thingelstad would make it a two-goal game again when he knocked down the puck in front of the net and slide it five-hole for his second goal of the game making it 6-4. Two minutes later Thingelstad threw another shot on goal and his younger brother Alex Longoria crashed the net to bury the rebound giving the Pirates five of the last six goals scored and making it 6-5 with just 4:41 to play. “Our message during both the first and second break was we have to simplify things,” said Hardy. “The puck was bouncing on us and we were overhandling it at times. We know we can get shots to the net, get rebounds, and score. It clicked for us there in the third and I think all of them except for Kiel’s were scrappy goals in front where we’re burying rebounds. Even Kiel’s had tons of guys out front. It was good to see us score goals like that because those are repeatable goals. We can do that every night. We can get in front of the net and bury rebounds.” Despite the great come from behind effort, the Pirates weren’t able to complete the comeback and with an empty net, Sugden would score his second goal of the night to ice the game 7-5 with two seconds to play. The Pirates were outshot in the final period 13-12.

The Bearcats improve to 1-2-0 on the year. The Pirates fall to 0-1-0 and will return to the ice on Friday night when they travel to Bemidji for a 7:30 p.m. game.  

Scoring 1st 2nd 3rd Final
Kittson County Central 1 4 2 7

1st Period
5:48 – KCC – Adam Gustafson (Hayden Olsonawski)

2nd Period
16:33 – KCC – Tyler Hennen (Unassisted) (SH)
11:30 – KCC – Tyler Hennen (2) (Adam Gustafson) (PP)
10:03 – KCC – Tyler Hennen (3) (Hayden Olsonawski, Adam Gustafson)
6:11 – KCC – Landon Sugden (Tyler Hennen) (4 on 4)
0:03 – Crox- Carter Trudeau (Kaleb Thingelstad) – first career goal 

3rd Period
16:28 – Crox – Kaleb Thingelstad (Jackson Demarais)
13:58- Crox – Noah Kiel (Kaleb Thingelstad, Jack Doda)
10:12 – KCC – Tyler Hennen (4) (Unassisted) (PP)
6:39 – Crox – Kaleb Thingelstad (2) (Unassisted)
4:41 – Crox – Alex Longoria (Jack Doda, Kaleb Thingelstad)
0:02 – KCC – Landon Sugden (2) (Tyler Bakken, Hayden Olsonawski) (Empty Net)

Saves 1st 2nd 3rd Final
Wyatt Olsonawski – KCC 10 11 8 29
Noah Dragseth – Crox 15 10 12 37