Boys hockey: Northfield takes big step toward third straight conference title

Raiders senior Kam Kaiser reaches 100 career goals with hat trick

By Nick Gerhardt

Northfield took a big step toward clinching its third straight Big 9 Conference title Saturday with a 5-0 victory over Rochester Century/John Marshall at Northfield Ice Arena. 

The Class A No. 7-ranked Raiders (16-2-2, 12-0 Big 9) got three goals from senior winger Kam Kaiser while senior winger Cayden Monson and junior winger Will Cashin provided two goals in the final 27 seconds of the first period to take control of the game. 

“He was struggling to score,” Northfield head coach Mike Luckraft said of Cashin. “He was playing good, he was struggling to score. He scored three at Mankato West the other night and then his confidence went through the roof. What a great play with five seconds to go in the period.”

The Raiders defeated the Panthers (16-4-1, 7-2-1 Big 9) 4-3 in the first meeting of the season Nov. 30 in Rochester. Senior center Jake Geiger scored with 3 minutes, 5 seconds left to win the game after his team led 3-0 midway through the second period.

The win gave Northfield 32 points in the conference. Second-place Rochester Century/John Marshall (16-4-1, 7-2-1 Big 9) has 23 points but can earn 12 more points if it wins its final four conference games. The Raiders have eight points available in their final three conference games. Northfield would have to lose all three to allow Rochester Century/John Marshall to claim the title, if the it wins out. 

Junior goaltender Max Frank picked up his third shutout of the season after stopping all 28 shots he faced. 

“I’ve felt that he’s had the hot hand lately,” Luckraft said. “He played down in Mankato the other night and I gave him a second run tonight and played real well. He’s real steady. He eats pucks and doesn’t give up a lot of rebounds.”

The first period saw a back-and-forth game before Monson picked the short side top corner with 27 seconds left to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead. Cashin added a goal with five seconds left in the period after Monson won a puck battle along the side board and fed Cashin, who skated across the goal for an easy finish. Cashin picked up his fourth goal in two games after recording a hat trick Thursday in a 6-1 win over Mankato West. Prior to the game against the Scarlets, Cashin hadn’t scored in the previous nine games. 

Kaiser got going in the second period with a goal at the 11:02 mark after he skated into the Rochester Century/John Marshall zone and drove to the net and sent a backhand shot through the short side for his 99th career goal.

Kaiser scored again in the third period on the power play at 3:06 of the period with a power-play goal to make it a 4-0 game. His third goal of the game, a diving play to get a stick on a rebound at 9:11 of the period, gave him 100 career goals and made it a 5-0 game. 

The Panthers outshot Northfield 28-25, but the Raiders spent much of the third period killing penalties. Rochester Century/John Marshall had a 5-on-3 power play opportunity for 42 seconds with 2:10 remaining but failed to convert. Northfield took a five-minute head contact major penalty at the 2:10 mark while already serving a penalty. 

The Raiders took eight penalties in the game and gave the Panthers seven power-play opportunities. 

Northfield will face stiff tests the rest of the way in the regular season. The Raiders play Lakeville North (6-14-1, 3-9-1 South Suburban) 7 p.m. Tuesday in Lakeville followed by a game against Owatonna (14-5-2, 7-2-2 Big 9) Thursday in Owatonna. 

Postgame interview with Northfield Head Coach Mike Luckraft