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Vikings Defeat Dragons in Section 5A Tilt

The Pine City Dragons played host to the North Branch Vikings on Tuesday night in Pine City. Both teams went into this game knowing that it was an absolutely critical win for Section 5A seedings and that in order to grab the coveted two seed victory was necessary. These two teams have seen recent history with several overtime games, a tie, and many close battles. This game would not disappoint in back and forth action, lots of scoring, and big saves from two great goalies. But ultimately it was the North Branch Vikings who stood victorious with a 5-3 defeat over the Dragons.

The Vikings opened up the first period scoring on a breakaway chance by Joey Kerchner with 10:45 to go in the first period. This would not be the last time that Kerchner, who ended up with a hat trick, would hurt the Dragons on breakaway chances. Pine City played tough and reacted well tying the game on a power play goal by Parker Sell late in the first period. It looked like we would head to the first intermission dead locked at one goal a piece, but the Vikings added one just one minute later by Tucker Sachs regaining their lead and headed into the intermission up by one.

The start of the second period was a stalemate with both teams trading chances and both goalies making great saves. Tim Thole broke open the scoring with his fifth goal of the season pushing the game even again at two goals a piece. And for the second time in the game, North Branch would react quickly and retake the lead just a few minutes later this time from Matt Dekanick. Pine City grabbed a late second period goal with less than a minute to go by Dusty Bergstrom to send it to the third period tied at three goals each.

The third period belonged to the Vikings and Kerchner who netted two more goals to give his team the 5-3 victory. Pine City saw a lot of chances late, but Jake Turek did what he does best and kept Pine City from finding the back of the net in the third.

Head coach Grant Nicoll wasn't upset with how his team played, "Even though we lost, and gave up way to many odd man rushes and scoring chances, we did have a much better effort by our boys. For the most part we won races, finished checks, and crashed the net. Unfortunately, instead of scoring goals we hit pipes and ran into another hot goaltender. "

The Dragons played a tough game, but ultimately came up just short in a battle against North Branch. After suffering two losses in a row, Pine City will have to get back on track quickly to keep themselves in the picture for a top four finish in the section that would guarantee a home playoff game. They have the chance to do that on Thursday when they host their rivals from Mora.


North Branch 2 1 2 5

Pine City 1 2 0 3

North Branch

Kerchner 3G 1A

Croal 0G 4A

Sachs 1G 2A

Dekanick 1G 0A

Garin 0G 1A

Turek 34 saves on 37 shots

Pine City

Sell 1G 1A

Lindblom 0G 1A

Westbrook 0G 1A

Bergstrom 1G 0A

Thole 1G 0A

Carpenter 0G 1A

Laven 25 saves on 30 shots

Photo Credit: North Branch Hockey Twitter

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