By Nick Gerhardt
It’s hard to get in a rhythm when you’re not playing frequently. It’s even harder when you’re killing penalties throughout the game.
Northfield returned to the rink Saturday for the first time in a week and defeated Owatonna 4-3 behind senior winger Andrew Winter’s game-winning goal with 2 minutes, 2 seconds left in the game.
The Class A No. 8-ranked Raiders (10-1-2, 6-0 Big 9) extended their unbeaten streak to 10 games but didn’t make it easy on themselves. Northfield took six penalties in the game, including a coincidental roughing penalty to put the Raiders on their heels much of the night.
Northfield built a 3-1 lead after Jake Geiger scored a second-period power-play goal at 8:36 with assists from senior defenseman Ty Frank and senior winger Kam Kaiser. Geiger put away a loose puck following Frank’s shot through traffic from the top of the blue line.
The Huskies (11-3-1, 4-1-1 Big 9) rallied to tie the game in the third period. Senior center Owen Beyer scored at 6:39 of the period with an assist from senior defenseman Jack Strom to cut the deficit to 3-2. Then with 4:55 left to play senior forward Joe Webster scored a power-play goal to make it a 3-3 game.
Winter’s go-ahead goal held up but not without some drama. The Raiders took a tripping penalty following the ensuing faceoff to give Owatonna a power play for the final two minutes of the game. Northfield killed off one more penalty to preserve the win and the inside track toward a conference championship.
“A battle like that, it’d be hard not to come out,” said Winter, who missed the end of last season due to an ACL tear. “It feels great that we got it done.”
The Raiders grabbed a 2-1 lead after the first period. Senior Barrett Bradley knocked in a rebound at the back post just 1:57 into the game with an assist from junior forward Griffin Kennelly.
The Huskies responded at 4:04 when senior winger Brody Goodnature fired a shot into a wide-open net to make it a 1-1 game.
Kennelly got a goal of his own at 8:47 of the first period on the power play with assists from senior winger Cayden Monson and Frank to make it 2-1.
Northfield got outshot 29-21 after spending so much time on the penalty kill. Senior goaltender Trey Shimota earned the win after stopping 26 shots.
The Raiders will get some rest again with their next game taking place Thursday at 7:15 p.m. in Rochester against Rochester Mayo (1-13, 1-5 Big 9).