Boys hockey: Northfield rebounds with rout of Rochester Mayo

By Nick Gerhardt

Northfield senior defenseman Cooper Rand picked a perfect time to record his first varsity goal.

The Raiders honored their 12 seniors including Rand Saturday before their game with Rochester Mayo at Northfield Ice Arena. Rand scored at the 3 minute, 37 mark of the second period off a perfect feed from senior winger Jake Geiger that gave Class A No. 6-ranked Northfield (18-3-2, 13-1 Big 9) en route to a 7-0 victory that helped secure at least a share of the Big 9 Conference title. 

“It surprised me that it was his first goal,” Raiders head coach Mike Luckraft said. “He has so much offensive skill. He steps up in the play, it’s not like he’s shy about it. He does a great job of reading times to jump up. He’s made some nice plays, just hasn’t sealed the deal.”

Geiger added a goal while junior winger Griffin Kennelly scored twice to lead Northfield to a bounce-back victory following a 4-3 loss to second-place Owatonna Thursday in Owatonna. The Raiders sit at 34 points and have one four-point game left. The Huskies (16-5-2, 8-2-2) have 26 points and two four-point conference games left. Owatonna will need to win out and have Northfield lose to get a share of the conference title. 

Sophomore center Michael Steward had a goal and two assists while senior winger Cayden Monson also scored as the Raiders outshot the Spartans (2-19-1, 2-10-1 Big 9) 38-18 in earning a season sweep of Rochester Mayo. 

Several of the Northfield seniors have played three or more years on varsity and helped bring the team to the state tournament for the second time in school history last year. 

“The reason we thought we had a chance to be good is because of the leadership coming back,” Luckraft said. “We were going to blend in a significant amount of new guys, freshmen and sophomores, but we really felt that the senior class was going to give us a chance to have a successful season. I’m super proud of those guys. They all play hard, they all bring a different skill.”

The Raiders played without senior winger and leading scorer Kam Kaiser for the second straight game. Kaiser suffered a shoulder injury against Lakeville North and won’t return to the lineup until the playoffs begin, Luckraft said. 

Senior goalie Trey Shimota earned the win after turning away all 18 shots he faced to give him his eighth win of the season, along with his second shutout. 

Northfield jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period behind goals from Monson, junior winger Kennelly and Steward. Kennelly and Steward scored on the power play while the Raiders outshot Rochester Mayo 38-18.

Rand’s goal made it 4-0. Senior winger Andrew Winter scored in the second period and eight seconds later Kennelly scored for a 6-0 lead after the second period. Geiger had the seventh and final goal of the game at 6:30 with assists from sophomore winger Christian Whiteman and junior winger Will Cashin. 

Northfield faces Faribault Thursday in Faribault before wrapping up the regular season Saturday against No. 9-ranked Delano in Delano.

Postgame interview with Northfield Head Coach Mike Luckraft