The Thief River Falls Prowlers got a pair of hat tricks from Blake Biermaier and Jaxon Brouse to defeat the Crookston Pirates Boys Hockey team 8-3 Thursday night in a Section 8A game played at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. 

1st Period
The Prowlers had the first six shots on goal but were unable to capitalize until midway through the first period. Brendan Bottom had a shot stopped picked up his own rebound and took it to the left half-wall. Bottem then walked the puck across the slot before sliding a backhand pass to Morgan Rude at the bottom of the left circle and he pushed across the goal line for a 1-0 lead with 9:00 minutes to play. Killing a penalty, the Pirates would get whistled for covering the puck in the blue paint leading to a penalty shot. Zachary Dalzell skated in and tried to go backhand in tight but Pirate goaltender Jaren Bailey kicked out the right leg to make the save. “Jaren played a heck of a game,” said Pirates Coach Josh Hardy. “He was all over the place out there. Made a big save on the penalty shot. Really proud of him. He played a heck of a game and really battled for us. That’s all you can ask at this point.” Still, on the penalty kill, the Pirates would get the equalizer when Alex Longoria knocked the puck free at the blue line and then won the race to the puck. He carried down the right-wing before ripping a wrist shot under the goaltender’s stick arm to tie the game 1-1 with 5:12 to go. “Shoot the puck, good things happen,” said Hardy. “He picked a corner wide and just missed the post as it went in. Al is having a nice year and working hard for us. One of our goals every game is to score a special team’s goal and to get the shorty there I thought was a momentum boost for us.” The Prowlers outshot the Pirates 17-8 in the first period. 

2nd Period
The Prowlers would reclaim the lead just eight seconds into the second period as Tysen Loeffler carried the puck into the zone, passed it off Isaiah Villarreal who sent it Zachary Dalzell streaking across the top of the crease and flipped it over the leg of the Pirate goaltend for a 2-1 lead. “It’s really simple mistakes,” said Hardy. “We don’t tie a guy up on the faceoff, think we have possession and we don’t. They come in and score right away on an odd-man rush. We talked after the game, four really simple mistakes that led to goals. We’re not going to win games if we give up eight goals. There were four little mistakes there that they capitalized on.” Jaxson Brouse would make it 3-1 when he carried out from behind the net and tapped the puck subtly with a backhand that  Bailey never saw the puck and the puck slid into the back of the net with 14:39 to go. Noah Kiel would answer with 13:40 to go when he knocked down a clearing attempt and wired a shot past the goaltender’s glove to make it 3-2. “Noah had some patience at the top of the key there and then shot it up high on the glove side to score,” said Hardy. “There are positives to take away from this. I thought Noah had is best game in a Pirate uniform. He really had a nice night defensively and then had a goal to boot.” Crookston would tie the game when Jackson Demarais fired a shot off the left point and Nathan Kelly was able to chop the puck as it went by deflecting it into the top of the net to make it 3-3 with 9:27 to go for his first career goal. “I told that line they were playing well in the second period and they were going to get one,” said Hardy. “I think those young pups look at me like I’m crazy sometimes but Jackson had a nice shot from the point and Nate found it in front of the net to get a stick on it to tip it in.” The Prowlers would take the lead for good when Rude fed Brouse who beat Bailey for his second goal of the night to make 4-3 with 6:37 to play. The Prowlers would make it 5-3 in short order as Bottom found Biermaier in front and he dropped to a knee to raise the puck top shelf with 5:36 to play in the second. The Pirates looked like they had an answer on the final rush of the period as Longoria and Jack Doda broke out on a two-on-one. Longoria carried down the right-wing and made a perfect pass to Doda on the doorstep who chipped into a wide-open net but the horn would sound before the puck crossed the goal line to keep it 5-3 at the second intermission. “We were screaming at the bench for Al to shoot the puck and he makes a great play to Jack on the backdoor and they score,” said Hardy. “It was the right call. It was after the buzzer. That’s a tough spot for a ref to be in. A tight game, get a bang-bang play like that at the buzzer but they absolutely made the right call. Those guys do a good job. That’s probably one of the best crews we have in northwest Minnesota.” The Prowlers had another 16 shots on goal in the second while holding the Pirates to just seven.

3rd Period
The Prowlers held the advantage throughout the third period as they were able to put the Pirates away scoring three goals. First, Biermaier would score on a deflection with 11:32 to play making it 6-3. Then, with 7:16 to play Rude centered the puck onto the stick of Jaxon Brouse who banged home his third goal of the game. The Pirates would be assessed a major penalty with 5:18 to play and the Prowlers were scratch across one more. Biermaier would get the second hat trick of the night for the Prowlers when Bakken flipped him the puck at the bottom of the right circle and he beat the goaltender short side to make it 8-3 with just 1:21 to go. “When you’re short like are and don’t have a ton of guys, you’re going to run out of gas,” said Hardy. “Against a team like Thief River we kind of need to be in a lead going into the third period. It’s going to be tough for us to claw back at this point in the season. Come to the end of February it will be a different story but early in the season, we’re just not in the shape to buzz and create a ton of offensive opportunities in the third period. I thought there were times in the third we looked good and had a couple of nice shots it was just too little, too late.” The Prowlers outshot the Pirates 14-5 in the third. 

The Pirates fall to 0-3 on the year and will host Grafton (N.D.) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in a game that can be heard on KROX beginning with the RiverView Health pre-game show at 7 p.m. Thief River Falls improves to 2-3-1 and will travel to Red Lake Falls for their next game on February 4. 

Scoring 1st 2nd 3rd Final
Thief River Falls 1 4 3 8

1st Period
8:17 -TRF- Morgan Rude (Brendan Bottem)
5:12 – Crox – Alex Longoria (unassisted)

2nd Period
16:52 -TRF- Zach Dalzell (Isaiah Villarreal, Tysen Loeffler)
14:39 -TRF- Jaxon Brouse (Morgan Rude)
13:40 -Crox- Noah Kiel (unassisted)
9:27 -Crox- Nathan Kelly (Jackson Demarais)
6:37 -TRF- Jaxon Brouse (Morgan Rude)
5:36 -TRF- Blake Beirmaier (Brendan Bottem, Kaden Bakken)

3rd Period
11:32 -TRF- Blake Biermaier (Alex Von Holtum, Brendan Bottem)
7:16 -TRF- Jaxon Brouse (Morgan Rude, Justin Funk)
1:21 -TRF- Blake Beirmaier (PP) (Kaden Bakken, Jonah Lunsetter)

Saves 1st 2nd 3rd Final
Jaren Bailey – CROX 16 13 11 40
Brett Holmer – TRF 7 5 5 17