Granite City shuts out Alexandria Blizzard 6-0
For the sixth time this season, the Granite City Lumberjacks defeated the Alexandria Blizzard. The Blizzard got shut out for the first time all season/
The Alexandria Blizzard had its hands full in facing the Granite City Lumberjacks on Wednesday night with the Lumberjacks still with just one loss now four months into the season.
Granite City left the Runestone Community Center with its one-loss season intact as the West-Division leader continued to roll in a 6-0 win.
Alexandria (18-16-1, 37 points) kept it close in the first, only allowing one goal in the early going by Granite City’s Tucker Skime (assist Brett Reed).
The Lumberjacks broke things open with four goals in the second period, including one with 5.4 seconds left in the frame.
“The guys didn't give up,” Blizzard assistant coach Jon Crouse said. “They were working hard all the way to the end of the game. And being on the bench, I can tell that they care. They care about not winning and they're mad that they're not winning.”
The Blizzard got shut out for the first time this season in Wednesday’s loss.
“They’re mad about getting their butts kicked,” Crouse said. “So that's kind of something that I do take away. I see who is playing well, tell them to keep doing what they’re doing and then make adjustments from there.”
Outside of the second period, the Lumberjacks stayed strong only allowing one goal in each frame.
“Odd-man rushes and we were not playing the right way in the offensive zone,” Crouse said in regard to what keyed Granite City’s success in the second period. “Those kind of led to some breakdowns as the puck is coming out and back into our zone.”
Granite City has beaten Alexandria in all six meetings this season. All except for the first meeting of the season have been decided by three goals or more. The Blizzard has yet to score more than two goals in a game against the Lumberjacks this season.
That’s been the case for a lot of opponents against Granite City. The Lumberjacks have allowed an NA3HL-low 54 goals. Granite City (36-1, 75 points) is also averaging nearly 5.9 goals per game offensively.
Tal Halliday led the Lumberjacks in goals scored with two on Wednesday. Brett Reed led the game in assists with two.
Hayden Walters, Tucker Skime and Bjorn Jorgenson all found the back of the net for the Lumberjacks as well. The depth of this team makes things hard on opponents each game.
“They have four lines that can compete every night,” Blizzard defenseman Kaden Peterson said. “Where we kind of get tired once we get down the lines, but they have four solid lines that can roll the whole game (and not get tired).”
Peterson said they’ve been getting off to solid starts defensively against the Lumberjacks in recent games, but haven’t had the same success in the final two from frames.
“We just need to pick up guys more in the defensive zone I would say,” Peterson said.
Granite City’s offense has caught fire as of late, scoring at least four goals in the last nine out of ten games played.
Granite City finished with a 44-20 shot on goal advantage as the Lumberjacks ran their winning streak to 32 games.
“They're very aggressive in the neutral zone,” Crouse said. “We just got to chip pucks by them and hopefully get guys springs loose that can come and pick up those pucks.”
Peterson said they can and have competed with teams like Granite City, but need to do it for a full 60 minutes.
“I would say we got to play a full 60 minutes,” Peterson said in regards to learning from Wednesday’s loss. “We can compete with these teams a lot in two out of three periods, but we’ve got to put a full 60 minutes together to compete against this team for a full game.”
In the last eight losses it has had, Alexandria has been held to three goals or less.
Saturday is the last time the Blizzard are scheduled to play the Lumberjacks in the regular season.
“We're not covering guys back door and stuff all over the ice,” Peterson said about the second-period struggles against the Lumberjacks. “That’s every time we’ve played them. It’s always the second period. We really need to capitalize on our second period.”
But before playing the Lumberjacks again, The Blizzard are home for another home game on Friday as the New Ulm Steel come to town. Puck drops on Friday at 7:10 p.m.
The Blizzard are 6-0 against the Steel this season.
The Blizzard have a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games and are in fourth out of sixth in the Western division.
Alexandria has 12 games remaining to clinch a playoff spot. The last time the NA3HL had a 47 game season was in 2019-20, and the Blizzard made the playoffs with 53 points and a 24-18-4 record.