Fire put together impressive winning streak for tourney championship and #6 ranking

Over the past week, the Fire hockey team added to an already successful season by winning 3 consecutive games at the Hockey for Life Tournament in Prior Lake. These victories earned them the Championship and bumped them up to an impressive #6 ranking in the state.

The first match-up of the weekend occurred on Thursday, December 28 against Elk River. Eighth grader Trey Fenko was the first to score for the Fire, giving them a 1-0 lead after one period of play. Goals by Garrett Pinoniemi and Senior Joe Hankinson put the Fire ahead 3-2 at the close of the second. The Elks remained competitive in the third until Senior John Simon netted an empty netter to put the score at 4-2 and finish the game.

The second game took place on Friday, December 29 against long-time rival Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Joe Simon’s tally in the first gave the Fire a 1-0 lead until well into the second when Benilde tied the game on a power-play.

Less than 2 minutes after, Joe Hankinson answered for the Fire, giving Holy Family a 2-1 lead. The Knights scored late in the second, and the teams entered the third at standstill. With just over 4 minutes left, Joe Hankinson tallied his second of the game and third of the tournament. The Fire held strong defensively for the remaining minutes and emerged from their second game victorious.

On Saturday, January 30, the Fire faced Moorhead in their third and final game. At the time, the Spuds sat at a #8 ranking in state, just behind the Fire at #7. The similarity in the teams’ abilities showed through the scoreless first period. The Spuds got on the board first in the second period. The Fire entered the third period down 0-1, but just 15 seconds in, Senior captain Brady Ziemer netted one for the Fire, followed quickly with a goal by fellow captain Joe Hankinson.

The Spud’s rallied 2 minutes later with their second goal, only to be silenced with a quick goal by Holy Family junior Cole Wilson. For 10 minutes the Fire successfully controlled Moorhead’s offensive pressure, their efforts earning them a 3-2 win along with the Championship.

After the win, I had the chance to speak with a few of the players about their recent success:

Ben Almquist: “Well, coming into the season our team had some high expectations that I believe we are coming close to achieving. As of now, we are still improving and coming together as a team. I do believe that this team has a chance to do big things if we continue to improve and learn from our mistakes. We are on a good winning steak, and if we continue to play the way we have, we should keep it going.”

Jack Haley- “Over the course of the tournament we played very well, we were thrilled with the results and the Championship win has boosted our confidence heading into the second half of the season”

John Simon- “Our success has come from the way our team has bonded and come together on and off the ice.”

The boys currently have strung together 7 consecutive wins, a streak they hope to continue on the road this weekend. Their first match-up takes place at 7:30 on Friday, January 5 at Hodgins-Berardo Arena in Coleraine against Greenway.

At 3:00 on Saturday, January 6, the Fire face previous State Champions Grand Rapids at IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids.