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Junior Hockey: Willmar WarHawks stun Granite City, 2-1

Willmar ends Lumberjacks' 38-game winning streak

The logo of the new Willmar WarHawks, a NA3HL junior hockey franchise.

SAUK RAPIDS — The Willmar WarHawks brought Granite City’s gargantuan win streak to a halt on Friday night.

With a pair of goals from Collin Kerchoff and a 31-save effort from goaltender Cooper Olson, the WarHawks beat the Lumberjacks 2-1 at the Armadillo Deck Sports Arena.

The Willmar victory ended Granite City’s 38-game winning streak. Prior to Friday, the Lumberjacks’ last loss was 2-1 to the Mason City Toros on Oct. 1 in Sauk Rapids.

Kerchoff, a forward from White Lake, Michigan, got his first goal at 12 minutes, 13 seconds of the first period off assists from Marcus Mack and Jake Hosszu. With the game still 1-0 in the third, Kerchoff netted his 12th goal of the season at 11:06. Ethan Mock and Nolan Grier each had assists on the play.

Playing with a 5-on-3 advantage, Granite Falls got on the board when Tucker Skime scored his 21st goal with 11 seconds to play. Despite out-shooting the WarHawks 14-7 in the final period, that would be the only puck that got by Olson.


Olson, from Maple Grove, is 13-3-0 on the year with a .933 save percentage and a 2.06 goals against average.

Willmar has just a short time to enjoy the victory. They are on the road again Saturday to face the Alexandria Blizzard at 7:10 p.m. at the Runestone Community Center.

Willmar 2, Granite City 1

Willmar (27-14-1)             1     0     1 — 2
Granite City (42-2)           0     0     1 — 1
FIRST PERIOD –  (1) W: Collin Kerkchoff 11 (Marcus Mack) 12:13. PENALTIES: (1) W: Nolan Grier (too many men-minor, 2 min) 9:58 … (2) GC: Ben Tarlton (holding-minor, 2 min) 16:54 … (3) GC: Nick Mountain (slashing-minor, 2 min), 20:00
SECOND PERIOD –  No scoring. PENALTIES: (4) W: Jake Hosszu (cross checking-minor, 2 min) 11:11 … (5) GC: Carson Van Zuilen (tripping-minor, 2 min) 16:34 … (6) W: Grier (roughing, minor, 2 min) 18:42 … (7) GC: Luke Delzer (roughing-minor, 2 min) 18:42.
THIRD PERIOD – (2) W: Kerchoff 12 (Ethan Mock 11, Grier 12), 11:06 … (3) GC: Tucker Skime 21 (Tal Halliday 28, Kyle Mortenson 29), 19:49 PP. PENALTIES: (8) W: Elbridge DeKraai (tripping-minor, 2 min), 18:42 … (9) W: Brady O’Brien (slashing-minor, 2 min), 19:34.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Willmar: Cooper Olson 31/32 … Granite City: Xander Roberts 27/29.

Joe Brown is a sports reporter for the West Central Tribune.

He can be reached via email at: jbrown@wctrib.com or his office number: 320-214-4332.
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