G-PR hockey exhibition nets win against Bluejays
The Grafton-Park River Spoilers started the season the way they have for the past few seasons; with a win over the Jamestown Blue Jays. The Spoilers got a working man’s win in a manner that was probably expected for a season opening game. And although it wasn’t midseason crisp, there were enough flashes of execution to give the Spoilers a foundation to build on heading into next Tuesday’s region opener against Fargo North.
Grafton’s goalie Zach Nelson was in midseason form however, making 23 saves that kept the Spoilers in control. Two early penalties on GPR resulted in four decent scoring chances for the Jays but Nelson came up big on all four shots. Two of those were point blank attempts that Nelson handled calmly.
Zach Miller provided most of the Spoilers scoring opportunities in the first period. The speedy winger had two short side opportunities but Jamestown netminder Brian Wenzel, who in turn kept this game as close as it was, skipped both off his far side blocker. The Spoilers controlled most of the play in the Blue Jay end in the first period as evidenced by Wenzel’s 18 saves over the first seventeen minutes of play.
Jamestown had the best scoring chance early in the second period when Austin Rene skirted the defense and came in alone on Nelson. Nelson smothered it clean to keep the game knotted at zero. Then at the 1:42 mark of the period, Miller blasted a hard shot from the center slot that Wenzel kicked out to a waiting Brett Longtin. Longtin one-timed it from 20 feet out and the shot beat Wenzel clean for a 1-0 GPR lead.
Jamestown took their second penalty of the game two minutes later. Then just 17 seconds into the power play, Ben Thompson collected a shot in front of Wenzel and sent it under his pads for a two goal lead. Nelson was able to keep the Blue Jays scoreless with a couple sparkling saves, one when he stopped Nick Stockert’s blast from ten feet out.
Jamestown would pull to within one when Tommy Bruns found a loose puck in a scrum in front of the Spoilers net and flipped it into the top corner. Then the play of the game came near the end of the second period when Miller raced in on the left side, was knocked to the ice and sliding on his side, sent a pass across to linemate Levi Cudmore, who snapped it past Wenzel to the low stick side for a 3-1 lead.
The third period played out even until the Jays put on a flurry with five minutes to play. Some pinch plays by the Blue Jay defensemen and backchecking forwards gave the Jays a couple good looks in front but Nelson was able to keep it a two goal game. The Spoilers final goal of the game came with :17 seconds left in regulation when Noah Zimmerman hustled one away from a Blue Jay defensemen deep in their zone and wheeled it over to a wide open Ryan Woinarowicz who sent it to the back of the net to complete the 4-1 win for GPR.
Wenzel ended the game with 47 saves for Jamestown. Nelson finished with 23 for the Spoilers.
The Spoilers next game is on Tuesday in Fargo when they take on EDC foe Fargo North at Scheels Arena with a 7:30 start time.