Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Moorhead pulls away in the third period, beats Elk River, 8-4

Spuds are headed to their 19th state tournament, including their fifth since 2017

Moorhead vs Elk River-Zimmerman_0553.jpg
Moorhead celebrates a goal against Elk River/Zimmerman during the first period Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — After a back-and-forth two periods, the Moorhead boys hockey team was able to score three goals in the third period and pull away from Elk River, 8-4, for the Section 8AA championship on Wednesday at Municipal Athletic Complex.

With the win, the Spuds (21-6-1) advance to their 19th state tournament since 1992 and fifth since 2017. Elk River, which upset Roseau in the section semifinals, finishes 19-8-1.

Senior center Gavin Lindberg, a Mr. Hockey candidate, finished with two goals, including the game-winner, for Moorhead. Lindberg scored a wraparound goal at 14:55 of the second period to give the Spuds a 5-3 lead. Lindberg also had the second goal of the game for Moorhead.

"They definitely didn't shy away and they're a great team," Lindberg said of Elk River. "We maybe didn't respect them as much as we should have, but we got the win. That's all that matters.

"Every chance that they had, they seemed to score on."


Moorhead vs Elk River-Zimmerman_0585.jpg
Moorhead's Gavin Lindberg (3) tries to center the puck in front of the Elk River/Zimmerman goal during the first period Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

The first two periods proved to be a see-saw affair.

In the first period, Moorhead jumped to an early lead when junior defenseman Joe Gramer and Lindberg scored goals 50 seconds apart and the Spuds led 2-0 at 4:27.

Elk River responded just over a minute later when senior forward Blaise Schutt picked up a loose puck and skated deep into Moorhead territory, where the senior forward flipped a backhand shot past Moorhead sophomore goalie Kai Weigel.

Five minutes later, Schutt tied up the game with his second goal of the game (16th of the season) for the Elks. The game was tied 2-2 going into the second period, despite Moorhead outshooting the Elks 17-9.

"Their speed was incredible," Spuds junior defenseman Joe Schiller said of the Elks. "We knew that was going to happen and we were prepared a little bit, but their speed kind of overwhelmed us for a little bit."

Moorhead vs Elk River-Zimmerman_0244.jpg
Elk River/Zimmerman's Blaise Schutt (17) scores over the shoulder of Moorhead goalie Kai Weigel (31) during the first period Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

In the second, Schutt took a penalty and the Spuds pounced on the power play opportunity when Schiller's slapshot was tipped in by Colby Krier at 8:56 to give the Spuds a 3-2 lead.

The Elks, however, responded when senior forward Blake Johnson scored a breakaway goal to tie the game at 3-3 at 9:52. It was Johnson's team-leading 25th goal of the season.

"We'd always get close to cashing in goals and then something flukey would happen and they'd go in and score," Schiller said. "The thing about that is you've just got to flush it and go to the next shift."


Moorhead quickly regained the lead (4-3) when junior forward Joe Kortan snapped a wrist shot in, 49 seconds after Johnson scored.

Lindberg scored his second goal (21st of the season), the game-winner, at 14:55 of the second period.

"Our game plan was to get the puck down low and I wrapped it around, trying to make something happen," said Lindberg, who is receiving recruiting interest from St. Cloud State, Colorado College, St. Thomas, Northern Michigan and Vermont. "Luckily, I got it 5-hole."

The Elks had one more answer when senior forward Erik Pilich scored a rebound goal at 15:23 of the second period to cut the deficit to 5-4.

But the Spuds got goals from senior wing Wyatt Tweet (4:01), senior wing Carson Triggs (12:37) and junior wing Harper Bentz (14:03) to put the game away. Bentz is tied for ninth in the state with 37 goals this season.

"They had a chance with their goaltender (sophomore Sam Stockman) with the way he was making saves and their opportunistic offense," said Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman, whose team had 43 shots on goal. "They gave us all we could handle for two (periods).

"They're a veteran team and a team that's played in some very tight games. They were very good and they gave us fits.

"In the third period, I give our guys credit for sticking with it. Harper Bentz had half a dozen scoring chances and was hitting pipes, unbelievable saves ... and then was finally able to sneak one in late. I thought the difference in the game was our secondary scoring."


Moorhead's top line has Bentz (65 points) and Triggs (23 goals, 54 points) on the wings with Lindberg (65 points) at center.

"Getting secondary scoring is something that we're having trouble with," Ammerman said. "When we're able to get scoring from somebody other than that top line, we're a dangerous team."

Moorhead will wait to see if they get one of the top five seeds in the state tournament. The Spuds went into the week ranked No. 4 in the state and have wins over White Bear Lake (4-1), Prior Lake (4-2) and Edina (2-1). Those three teams all qualified for the state tournament on Wednesday.


Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com

For more coverage of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities, check out St. Cloud Live.
What to read next
Jeremy Sprung, 17, announced his commitment to Brown after posting 71 points in 57 games for Shattuck-St. Mary's 16U squad this past season.
Find out where the top skaters and goaltenders of 2022 are now and how their hockey careers have progressed over the past year.
With a father and an uncle who both played Division I hockey, Edina forward Bobby Cowan followed the family legacy and committed to St. Thomas a few weeks after the Hornets' state title game trip.
Get Local