By Ryan Evans
PLYMOUTH, Minn.—Scoring, and a lot of it, was the theme of the day as the second session of the Minnesota Hockey Boys HP15 Spring Festival wrapped up on Saturday. When the ice settled, six districts remained unbeaten in round robin pool play on a day in which every game featured seven goals or more.
Districts 6, 2, 3, 10, and 11 stayed perfect at the expense of Districts 16, 12, 15, 8, and 4, respectively, while Districts 5 and 9 battled to the festival's first tie.
Through two games for each side, four players are tied for the goals lead with three apiece and Kyle Kukkonen (District 3/Osseo Maple Grove) and Joe Miller (District 3/Minneapolis) each pace the points field with six (2+4).
The festival concludes on Sunday, April 23 with the final six-game slate. On the line for the players is the opportunity to be one of the 102 selected to move on to June's CCM High Performance Summer Festival in St. Cloud.
District 16 - 2, District 6 - 6
Another quick goal put District 6 (2-0, Red Pool) in an early hole, but for the second-straight day it battled back, scoring four unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 win over District 6 (0-2) to keep its record clean.
After quickly falling behind, 1-0, District 6 got two goals in a 9:21 span from Drew Holt and Jack Sabre in the opening half and sailed to the finish line from there. District 6 added another pair without a response in the first 5:54 of the closing frame from Tristan Broz and Grant Ahcan to build what proved to be an insurmountable 4-1 lead with 18:06 to play.
District 16's Nathaniel Emery opened the scoring at the 5:52 mark of the first and Cooper Holm cut the deficit to 4-2 with 15:26 remaining, but that was as close as it got. District 6 added two more late from Gavin Waltz and Holt to round out the game's scoring.
Ahcan (1+1), Broz (1+1), Holt (2+0), and Waltz (1+1) each had multi-point games for District 6 in the win.
District 12 - 4, District 2 - 8
With the score tied late in the second half, District 2's (2-0, White Pool) attack went into overdrive, scoring four goals to close out the game and an 8-4 win over District 12 (0-2) to remain among the ranks of the undefeated.
Both teams put on an offensive exhibition from the drop of the puck—scoring a combined four times in the first 7:33 of the contest. District 2 emerged from the flurry with a 3-2 lead and extended it to 4-2 before the break. District 12 bounced back to tie the game, 4-4, with two goals from Mitchell Vekich and Maccrea Murphy in 4:50 to start the second, before District 2 broke it open.
District 2's Cole Carpenter scored the eventual game-winner with 5:38 to play and his team lit the lamp three more times in the ensuing 3:34 to run away with the victory.
Five District 2 players notched multiple points and two—Carpenter (1+2) and Samuel Newpower (1+2)—had three-point games.
District 15 - 4, District 3 - 8
Scoring was the order of the day as District 3 (2-0, Blue Pool) and District 15 (0-2) combined for nine goals in the first half, six of which came off the sticks of District 3 as it pulled away for an 8-4 win to keep its festival record perfect.
Between the 17:53 and 5:22 marks of the opening half—a span of just 12:31—the two teams combined for nine goals. District 3 surfaced with a 6-3 lead at intermission thanks in large part to a Ryan Mulrenin hat trick that took him just 4:32 to complete early in the half.
District 3's trio of Mulrenin (3+1), Kyle Kukkonen (0+4) and Joe Miller (1+2) was unstoppable on Saturday. Each of the three had a three-point day or better and combined for four goals and 11 points. Five total District 3 players finished with multiple points.
District 3 added two more tallies from Miller and Benjamin Leafblad in the second to pad its cushion.
District 15 got off to a good start, securing the game's first lead 6:07 into the contest on Christian Thingvold's first of two goals on the afternoon. Luke Gramer tied the game at two with 12:30 to play in the first, but District 3 came fast and furious after that—building a sizable advantage that proved too deep for District 15 to dig out of.
District 10 - 4, District 8 - 3
In a tightly-contested match-up, District 10 (2-0, Red Pool) held off a late District 8 (0-2) charge for a hard-fought, 4-3, win to remain undefeated.
The teams traded barbs in a back and forth first half, but Luke Kron's goal with 8:28 to play in the opening stanza opened up a 2-1 lead for District 10 that it did not again relinquish.
District 10 pushed its lead to 3-1 and then 4-2, after District 8 drew back within one, with goals from Nathan Schweitzer and Cole Hansen, respectively. Hansen finished with a team-leading two points (1+1) on the day.
Jared Wright led District 8's attack with a goal and two points. His second half goal fueled his teams ill-fated comeback, pulling District 8 to within 3-2 with just over 14 minutes to play.
District 5 - 4, District 9 - 4
After taking a one-goal lead with just under 11 minutes to play, District 5 (1-0-1, White Pool) settled with for the Boys HP15 Festival's first tie, 4-4, with District 9 (0-1-1) after an arduous, see-saw battle.
Trailing by one with just under 16 minutes to play, District 5's Logan Benson and Logan Stellmach scored twice in a 4:55 span to break a deadlock and give their team a 4-3 advantage with 10:57 to play. As was a theme for both sides throughout, though, District 9 had an answer—equalizing on with a Gavin Gunderson tally with just under eight minutes left.
In the first half, District 9 grabbed a 2-0 lead out of the gate on the strength of goals by Blake Arneson and David Nesburg, but District 5 responded as Blake Perbix brought his side within one, 2-1, just before the intermission and Jack Smith equalized just 23 seconds into the second half.
The scoring came pouring out of the gates at intermission. After Smith's tally, Arneson's second of the day re-gained District 9's lead, 3-2, just 17 seconds later and set up the wild final minutes.
District 11 - 4, District 4 - 3
Late heroics rescued District 11 (2-0, Blue Pool) from a two-goal deficit as it stayed undefeated with a last-minute, 4-3, win over District 4 (0-2).
Trailing, 3-2, with 1:12 to play, District 11's Nolan Haney and Brayden Tyman stepped up to play hero. Haney tied the game followed by Tyman's game-winner with just 16 seconds remaining.
With his team down by two, 3-1, Isaac Mosher brought District 11 within one with 6:09 left to set the stage for his team's late heroics.
District 4 built its 3-1 lead on the back of first half goals by Jacob Vontersch and Luke Levandowski and a second half tally from Kyle Espenson, but was unable to hole on late in the game.