Boys hockey: Seniors lift Northfield to semis

Kaiser sets new school record for career goals

By Nick Gerhardt

It wasn’t the start Northfield or many others expected but the Raiders’ senior leadership made sure it didn’t stay that way. 

Top-seeded and No. 8-ranked Northfield overcame a surprising first-period deficit to defeat eighth-seeded Faribault 9-2 Thursday in the Section 1A quarterfinals at Northfield Ice Arena.

The Raiders trailed 2-1 after the first period after the Falcons (10-16) grabbed a 2-1 lead. Faribault, which defeated ninth-seeded Red Wing 7-2 Tuesday in the play-in game, took advantage of two Northfield defensive zone turnovers to take control of the game. 

The Raiders mounted a quick response in the second period and scored the game’s final eight goals. Northfield’s seniors led the charge to score twice within the first 48 seconds to gain a 3-2 lead. 

Senior defenseman Ty Frank led a rush into the Falcons zone and found Andrew Winter who scored just 21 seconds into the period to tie the game 2-2. Senior center Jake Geiger put the Raiders (20-4-2) in front 3-2 with a goal 27 seconds later with an assist from senior defenseman Cooper Rand.

“Our senior leadership took over,” Northfield head coach Mike Luckraft said. “I’m sure they said something in the locker room to calm everyone down. They came out and set the tone in the second period and that changed the game.”

Kam Kaiser scored the second of his three goals at the 2:53 mark on an assist from Geiger. Kaiser added a third goal at 11:31 of the second period to make it 5-2 with Rand assisting again. Geiger, who also recorded a hat trick, scored his second goal with 1:40 left in the period to make it 6-2.

It put the first-period woes behind the Raiders, who seek a return trip to the Class A state tournament. 

Falcons senior winger Ethan Amundson scored 8:52 second into the game after he picked off a cross-ice pass and found the back of the net. 

Kaiser scored his first goal of the game at 11:08 on the power play to set a new Northfield school record for career goals with 103. Kaiser surpassed Andrew Scofield, who set the mark with 102. Kaiser’s hat trick put him at 105 and counting. 

Faribault senior Oliver Linnemann pounced on another Raiders defensive zone turnover to regain the lead and give the Falcons some momentum. Faribault has played with just 11 players since three players suffered injuries in a car crash Feb. 10. The team’s first game back came against Northfield Feb. 15 where the Raiders picked up an 8-0 victory.

“You have to kind of absorb that and be able to play underneath that pressure,” Luckraft said. “The come out of it was our leadership.”

Charlie Becker scored his first career varsity goal in the third period. Geiger recorded his third and Barrett Bradley scored in the final minutes for the 9-2 final.

Northfield moves on to face Albert Lea in the semifinals Saturday at 5 p.m. in Rochester at the Rec Center. The fourth-seeded Tigers came away with a 3-2 double overtime win against fifth-seeded Rochester Lourdes. Northfield defeated Albert Lea (14-11-1) 7-3 in the lone regular season meeting on Dec. 9 in Northfield.