Another year, another trip to the Xcel Energy Center for the Moorhead Spuds boys hockey team. No matter how the season starts Moorhead always seems to find a way to participate in the largest high school state tournament in Minnesota. 2023 marks the Spuds’ fifth straight trip to the MSHSL Boys Hockey Class AA state tournament in St. Paul, Minn.
The Spuds had an up and down start to the season, sitting at 9-9 on the season as the late stages of January neared. Moorhead then ran the table and pulled off 10 straight wins to advance back to the state tournament. They would end up being a random draw and have to face off with No. 3 Edina in the state quarterfinals.
Moorhead and Edina split their two regular season meetings with the Spuds winning game one 2-0 in late November and the Hornets countering with a 3-2 victory two days after Christmas.
The third and final matchup between Moorhead and Edina was set. 5:24 into the opening period the Spuds would strike first on a Park Gast goal, 1-0 Moorhead. Edina would counter at the 12:27 mark of the period on a Ryan Flaherty goal, 1-1 tied. The remainder of the period both teams would stalemate ending the first 17 minutes tied at a goal apiece.
In the second period the Hornets wasted no time, with Bobby Cowan scoring his first of three goals only 55 seconds into the period, 2-1 Edina. Lucas Cole would score at the 4:29 mark of the period, extending the Hornets lead to 3-1. Moorhead’s Garrett Lindberg found the back of the net at 6:09 of the second period, cutting the Spuds’ deficit to 3-2. Edina would respond two minutes and 28 seconds later on a Jackson Nevers goal, making the score 4-2 Hornets. The score would remain the same going into the second period intermission.
The third period began with much of the same as the Hornets’ Bobby Cowan scored only 43 seconds into the period, extending Edina’s lead to 5-2. 19 seconds later the Spuds would respond on an Aaron Reierson goal, 5-3 the Spuds trailed. Midway through the period Bobby Cowan would complete the hat trick and give Edina a three goal lead once again 6-3. Then it happened… Moorhead’s Abe Carlson would score 30 seconds later, cutting the deficit to 6-4 for the Spuds. At the 14:11 mark Caleb Alderson gave Moorhead hope, cutting the deficit to one at 6-5. Moorhead head coach would make the decision to pull goalkeeper Kai Weigel after the goal, leaving the Spuds’ net exposed. Moorhead controlled the puck for the majority of the next couple minutes. Time was running out for Moorhead and at the 16:02 mark Colby Krier let a shot go… And… He lit the lamp! Comeback complete! We were tied at 6-6! The Hornets and Spuds would remain deadlocked at six apiece until the end of regulation.
We were headed to overtime. Moorhead controlled the puck for the majority of the period and had multiple chances to win the game, but ultimately couldn’t find the back of the net.
Overtime ended and both teams headed back to the locker room to regroup and the zamboni layed down a fresh sheet of ice.
Edina came out of the locker room and controlled most of the taking all four shots on net, with the final shot being the dagger. 2:02 into the second overtime Charlie Sanven ripped a shot that got past Moorhead’s Kai Weigel and the Hornets won. Edina would advance to the state semifinals with a thrilling 7-6 2OT victory over Moorhead.
The Spuds would return to the ice on Friday morning to take on No. 2 Maple Grove in the consolation semifinals. The Crimson were upset on Thursday afternoon 3-1 to Cretin-Derham Hall. Early in the first period Maple Grove would strike, 1-0 Crimson as they drew first blood at the 5:20 mark. Moorhead’s Aaron Reierson would counter at 7:34 of the first period, tying the contest at a goal apiece. Exactly four minutes later (11:34) Maple Grove regained the lead 2-1 on a Blake Steenerson goal. The first period would come to a close with the Crimson holding onto a one goal lead.
Maple Grove would come out in the second period with Jack Kernan scoring a goal 1:21 into the period, 3-1 Crimson. About 11 minutes later Blake Steenerson completed the hat trick, extending the lead to 4-1. In the late stages of the second period Caleb Alderson scored, cutting the Spuds’ deficit to 4-2.
The final 17 minutes began with both squads trading punches. Then at the 11:43 mark of the period Aaron Reierson struck and the deficit was down to one, 4-3 the Crimson led. Unfortunately the Spuds wouldn’t score again and would fall to Maple Grove 4-3.
The Spuds 2022-23 season has now officially come to an end. Moorhead finished with a 19-11 record that included a 10 game winning streak heading into the state tournament. Reierson ended the season as the teams leading scorer with 51 points on 16 assists and a team-high 35 goals.