Boys Hockey: Late Atkinson goal garners Little Falls tie versus Hutch

Little Falls junior Nikolas Himley (15) and senior Alec Zack (29) lead an odd-man rush into the Mound-Westonka zone against White Hawks senior Josh Mazurek (12) during the opening night of the Flyers’ home holiday tournament, Dec. 26.

Little Falls junior Nikolas Himley (15) and senior Alec Zack (29) lead an odd-man rush into the Mound-Westonka zone against White Hawks senior Josh Mazurek (12) during the opening night of the Flyers’ home holiday tournament, Dec. 26.

Little Falls junior Landon Atkinson found the back of the net with less than four minutes to play to help the Flyers gain a 4-4 tie versus Hutchinson during the final night of the Little Falls holiday tournament, Dec. 28.

Both teams held the lead twice in the contest, with the Flyers striking just 2:19 in on a goal by sophomore Mack Anez.

Hutchinson tied the game at 1-1 by the end of the first period, then went up 2-1 midway through the second, before a power-play goal by senior Mark Anez evened the game back up.

Little Falls took its second lead 3:38 into the third period on a power-play goal by junior Austin Fenske, before Hutchinson reclaimed the advantage with 5:30 to play, only for Atkinson to net the tying goal.

Junior Ezra Spandl made 30 saves in net, including six during overtime to deny Hutchinson the win.

Mack Anez recorded two assists, with senior Jack Schulte, junior Connor Jorgensen and Fenske also tallying assists.

Penalties proved costly in the tournament opener for Little Falls, Dec. 26, as the Flyers watched Mound-Westonka convert a pair of power plays while having a late 5-on-3 threat of their own wiped away by a tripping call.

The White Hawks struck 12:21 into the first period with a man advantage to take a 1-0 lead, but Fenske answered with a power-play goal of his own with 48 seconds left before the intermission to knot the game at 1-1.

Mound-Westonka regained the lead on its second power-play goal midway through the second period, then extended the lead to 3-1 less than a minute into the third.

Little Falls had a chance to get back into the contest with a 5-on-3 shortly thereafter, but had its advantage extinguished with a penalty of its own.

Little Falls junior goalie Ezra Spandl traps a Mound-Westonka shot against his body during the opening night of the Flyers’ home holiday tournament, Dec. 26. Spandl started all three games of the tournament, averaging 26.3 saves per game.

Little Falls junior goalie Ezra Spandl traps a Mound-Westonka shot against his body during the opening night of the Flyers’ home holiday tournament, Dec. 26. Spandl started all three games of the tournament, averaging 26.3 saves per game.

The Flyers nearly erased a three-goal deficit the following night, but Willmar pulled away down the stretch for a 6-2 victory, Dec. 27.

Willmar opened up a 3-0 lead by the midway point of the second period and appeared as if it would hold that margin going into the third, but Jorgensen put Little Falls on the board with 14 seconds left before intermission on the power play, assisted by Fenske.

Still skating with a man advantage after a five-minute major penalty on Willmar, Little Falls cut the gap to 3-2 just 1:12 into the third period on a goal from Mack Anez, set up by senior Dane Peterson.

Willmar killed off the remainder of the penalty, however, then reasserted its advantage with three unanswered goals the rest of the way.

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