By Joe Tischler
Special to The Free Press
Committing penalties is something the Mankato East/Loyola boys hockey team has not been doing a lot of this season. The Cougars though took nine penalties, including six in the second period, but were able to overcome them behind Shane Sellner’s three-point night in a 4-2 nonconference win over Waseca Friday at All Seasons Arena.
East/Loyola got on the scoreboard first, just moments after killing off its second Waseca power play of the opening period. Sophomore Neil Nienaber scored off of assists from Judd Schulz and Logan Lebert 12:03 into the frame. The Cougars scored again 35 seconds later when Sellner hit senior Brent Adams for the one-timer to give them a 2-0 lead.
“It’s big every time we can kill off a penalty,” said Sellner. “It gives us momentum and makes us want to come out and score some goals.”
The Cougars had plenty of opportunities to kill more Bluejay power plays as six players were sent to the box in a penalty-plagued second period. East/Loyola was able to deny Waseca a goal in its first two power plays, but nine seconds into the third chance, the Bluejays were able to get one by East netminder Jeremia Merela when Jesse Ungs knocked in a deflection to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Bluejays were able to tie it up at 2-2 with 2:39 left in the period. Cody Ulfers picked up a loose puck from the East/Loyola blue line, held off a Cougars’ defender and scored on the breakaway.
The final two minutes of the second period were filled with penalties from both teams. Two were called on each squad and, by the end of the period, they were playing 3-on-3 hockey.
“We lit up the scoreboard in the second period with penalties,” said East/Loyola coach Aaron Anderson. “That’s our first game that that’s really happened to us. We fixed that between the second and third periods and came out and played a really good (last) period.”
Sellner was the main reason why the Cougars played a really good third. He got the assist on the game-winning goal when Grayson Gavin went top shelf over Waseca goalie Zac Weichert with 5:45 left in the game.
Two minutes later, Sellner added an insurance goal when he received a nice feed from Adams and put the puck in the right side of the net for the 4-2 win. It was the second goal the two collaborated on during the game.
“Me and Brent seemed to have some chemistry tonight,” said Sellner. “Hopefully we can keep that going for the rest of the year.”
East/Loyola (3-6) takes the ice again at 4 p.m. today against Worthington at All Seasons Arena.