Irondale boys hockey looks to build on its streak

Winning streaks aren’t something that the Irondale/St. Anthony boys hockey team has enjoyed too often in recent seasons but the Knights enter this week with one. They opened 2017 with a pair of victories last week and are hoping to extend it this week.

Irondale doubled its win total for the season by taking down Champlin Park and Osseo last week. The Knights went from two wins to four with the victories and have two more games on tap this week.

Game one this week is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Super Rink and has Irondale facing longtime rival Totino-Grace. For the first time in 15 years, Irondale enters a game against Totino-Grace having won the previous match-up. 

Irondale snapped a 29-game losing streak against Totino-Grace when it beat the Eagles 5-3 on Jan. 23, 2016. The Knights’ previous win over Totino-Grace came in early January of 2001.

Irondale enters Thursday’s game trying to make it back-to-back wins over Totino-Grace for the first time in more than 17 years.

Also on the docket this week is a Saturday matinee at Fogerty Arena against Spring Lake Park. Irondale also snapped a fairly lengthy losing streak against the Panthers last year. The Knights had lost 11 in a row to Spring Lake Park prior to pulling off a 4-2 win on Dec. 22, 2015.

The Knights have another long losing streak they can try and snap next week. Irondale hosts district rival Mounds View on Jan. 17 and will be looking to beat the Mustangs for the first time since 2006 and end a string of nine straight losses.

In its two wins last week, Irondale got a pair of stellar performances from goaltender Max Eilefson. The junior made a combined 70 saves in the two games and picked up a personal accomplishment.

Eilefson’s big week started on Jan. 5 as Irondale hosted Champlin Park. Eilefson turned away 43 of 45 shots to earn the victory. 

Two days later, Eilefson picked up his first varsity shutout as he stopped all 27 of Osseo’s shots. The shutout came in Eilefson’s 13th varsity start.

Irondale beat Champlin Park 3-2 despite being outshot 45-14. The Knights never trailed in the game and used a late third-period goal to pull out the dramatic win.

Kevin Kvaal opened the scoring midway through the first period on a goal assisted by Ryan Solz and Justin Ohnstad. It was Kvaal’s first varsity goal.

Champlin Park tied it up on a power-play goal in the first minute of the second period but Irondale returned the favor just seconds later. Nate Chamberlain put the Knights back in front 15 seconds after the Rebels got the equalizer. Kvaal and Tyler Eskro provided assists on Chamberlain’s tally.

In the third period, Champlin Park gave Irondale plenty of opportunities to pull away but the Knights were unable to convert on three power plays. After the Rebels committed their fourth penalty of the period, they tied it up by scoring shorthanded.

Now the game was tied, the momentum was with Champlin Park but Irondale was still on the power play. That turned out to be huge because with just three seconds left on the man advantage, Tanner Eskro came through with the unassisted, game-winning goal.

Irondale turned the tables in the Osseo game by outshooting the Orioles 38-27. Despite 65 shots on goal, there was only one goal scored and it went to Irondale.

That lone goal came just 4:13 into the game off the stick of Jack Moore. Nick Ellingson picked up the lone assist.

Irondale enters this week with a record of 4-7, which puts the Knights nearly halfway to last year’s win total of nine. The nine wins a season ago were the most for Irondale since winning 10 in 2012-13. They followed up that season with three wins in each of the next two years.

Irondale’s most recent winning season came in 2004-05, when the Knights finished 17-10.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

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