Boys hockey: Wisconsin's top-ranked team doubles up MarshallPREP BOYS HOCKEY: Notre Dame Academy took advantage of a tired, beat-up Duluth Marshall defense with three third-period goals in a 6-3 victory Saturday at Mars Lakeview Arena.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Already extremely youthful on defense entering the high school boys hockey season, Duluth Marshall’s blueline was further beset by injuries before the Hilltopper Holiday Classic championship game.
That’s never a good sign when playing a top-ranked team.
Notre Dame Academy took advantage of a tired, beat-up defense with three third-period goals in a 6-3 victory Saturday at Mars Lakeview Arena.
“We were a little exposed tonight on ‘D,’ ” Marshall coach Brendan Flaherty said. “To beat a team like that you have to play a more solid game.”
Jared Zirbel sandwiched two goals, including the game-winner, around one by Brett Gruber as the Tritons (10-0) broke a 3-3 tie in the final period. After beating Wausau West in double overtime of the Wisconsin state final last March, the Green Bay-based private school has been ranked No. 1 all season.
Marshall (7-4), ranked seventh in Minnesota Class A, beat Notre Dame 5-3 in last year’s final.
“They remembered we beat them in the championship last year and they had an axe to grind,” Flaherty said.
Notre Dame coach Cory McCracken said his players learned from that outcome.
“We had an early lead on Duluth, but we were a little young and inexperienced in certain parts of our game last year and they made us pay for it,” McCracken said. “This year our kids responded well to the adversity when we found ourselves down early.”
Marshall took a 1-0 lead 4:56 into the game when Jordan Fralich caught the upper netting on a shot from the right faceoff circle. After two Mason Appleton goals, Fralich tied the game with another power-play score at 11:08 of the second period.
Fralich, a sophomore who transferred from Silver Bay, is one of those young members of a senior-less defense that is learning as the season progresses.
“We’ve played better than expected, but we can’t afford to give up goals like we did tonight,” Fralich said.
Freshman Luke Davison, one of several Division I prospects on the Tritons, broke a 2-2 tie by beating screened goaltender Caden Flaherty through his pads in the final minute of the second.
Anthony Miller equalized, but three games in three nights began to take its toll on the Hilltoppers.
Zirbel crashed the net on a centering attempt from Anton Brix and scored the game-winner at 9:36, followed a minute later by Gruber’s tally in the slot and Zirbel again at 12:05 when he whacked in a loose puck in the slot.
“We decided we needed to be more of a north-south team and get pucks behind their ‘D,’ ” McCracken said.
That defense, which was minus Kyle McKinzie and Lane Krenzen because of injuries, had only five healthy bodies before the game and further was depleted as Brady Nash and Kyle Jones each needed medical treatment.
All of those players are expected to dress for the team’s Lake Superior Conference opener Thursday against Hermantown.
Notre Dame: 0-3-3—6
Duluth Marshall 1-1-1—3
First period — 1. DM, Jordan Fralich (Jack Dodd), 4:56 (pp).
Second period — 2. NDA, Mason Appleton (Sam McCormick), 3:18 (pp); 3. NDA, Appleton (Brett Gruber, Riley Christensen), 6:47; 4. DM, Fralich (Kris McKinzie), 11:08 (pp); 5. NDA, Luke Davison, 16:01.
Third period — 6. DM, Anthony Miller (Jeremy Lopez), 5:51; 7. NDA, Jared Zirbel (Anton Brix), 9:36; 8. NDA, Gruber (Appleton), 10:36; 9. NDA, Zirbel (Brix, McCormick), 12:05.
Saves — Eli Hicks, NDA, 26; Caden Flaherty, DM, 19.