Tanner Holmes of Thief River Falls stopped this point-blank third period power play scoring opportunity for Breck School forward Chase Ellingson during Friday’s boys high school hockey game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Even though the Mustangs out-shot the Prowlers 34-13, Holmes kept it close. The visitors, the No. 2-ranked team in Class A, pulled out a 3-2 overtime win.
Thief River Falls’ bid for a fifth straight win over a top-ten ranked Class A boys high school hockey team ended Saturday afternoon when Breck School overcame a 2-0 deficit and beat the Prowlers 3-2 in overtime at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
It was the end of an 11-game winning streak for the Prowlers, who had beaten East Grand Forks, Warroad, Duluth Denfeld and Duluth Marshall – all ranked in the top ten – in their previous four starts.
Those wins earned Thief River Falls a No. 7 ranking in the latest Class A state polls.
A first period shorthanded goal, a second period power play goal and strong goaltending by Tanner Holmes had the Prowlers heading to their most impressive win yet over No. 2-ranked Breck School.
But the Mustangs scored with a mere three-tenths of a second left in the second period, tied it with 66 seconds remaining in regulation time and won it three minutes into an eight-minute sudden-death overtime.
“It was a good high school hockey game,” said Thief River Falls coach Tim Bergland. “The kids worked hard. We’re disappointed with the outcome. We had opportunities to win.”
The Prowlers were killing a first period penalty when they broke out of their zone with a 2-on-1 rush. The Mustangs caught up with the play, but Thief River Falls kept the pressure in the Breck end and scored on a shot by Logan Engelstad at 12:58.
Working the puck in the offensive zone, the Prowlers turned a second period power play opportunity into a 2-0 lead when Chris Forney caromed a shot off the pipe from the point at 11:59.
Holmes made 19 saves through the first two periods to keep the Mustangs at bay, but their 20th shot found the net just moments before time expired. Mark Sharp, positioned at the right post, slammed the puck in to the net with 0.03 on the clock.
“Obviously the goal at the end of the second period is one we would like to have back,” said Bergland. “To give up a goal like that late really hurts.”
Thief River Falls was clinging to the 2-1 lead as the clock approached the final minute of the third period. Sustained Breck pressure produced the equalizer when, off a scramble in front of the net, the puck took a high bounce up and over Holmes. The goal went to Lucas McCormick.
“Playing with a lead is tough sometimes,” offered Bergland. “We maybe got back on our heels a little.”
The game-winner came on a tip-in as McCormick got a piece of a Derek Wiitala shot from the point.
“They’re good,” confirmed Bergland. “They’re ranked that high for a reason. They come at you.”
The Mustangs improved to 16-3-1 with the win.
Holmes finished with 31 saves. Breck goalie Henry Johnson faced just 13 shots.
“Tanner played a great game,” said Bergland. “He gave us a chance to win.”
First period – TRF, Logan Engelstad (Isak Bergland), 12:58.
Second period – TRF, Chris Forney (Bergland, Engelstad), 11:59; Breck, Mark Sharp (Lucas McCormick), 16:59.
Third period – Breck, McCormick (Matt Colford, Thomas Lindstrom), 15:54.
Overtime – Breck, McCormick (Derek Wiitala, Sharp), 3:00.
Goalie saves – TRF, Tanner Holmes 8-11-10-2–31; Breck, Henry Johnson 3-4-3-1–11.