Goalie battle favors Eagles

NEW ULM – Brach Kraus stopped all 20 Minnehaha Academy shots while Jon Kopacek and Brandon Helget scored goals to give New Ulm a 2-0 victory Saturday afternoon in nonconference hockey.

Both goals – Kopacek’s in the second period and Helget’s into an empty net with 12 seconds left in the game – were unassisted.

Minnehaha Academy goalie Justin Ball stopped 38 of the 40 New Ulm shots he faced.

“This is a great win for us on our home ice,” said New Ulm coach Erik Setterholm. “The biggest thing in this game is we played for 51 minutes today – we did not have that letdown that we have had in the first few games. Today we played a very nice game.”

And it would take that to beat Minnehaha Academy, which lost to Luverne 5-3 on Friday night.

“Brach has been there all year and played another great game and it was nice to get him the shutout,” Setterholm said. “And you have to credit their goaltender. We put a lot of pucks on net. Games like this are hard to win when you are not able to get the puck by the other guy.”

It also marks the start of nine-straight road games with the next home game on Jan. 18 against Litchfield at 2 p.m.

After a scoreless first period that saw both teams fire 10 shots on the opposing goalie, the Eagles got on the board when Jon Kopacek, who scored two goals on Thursday, shot a wrist shot by Ball at the 8:41 mark of the second peiod.

“With Jon we just keep telling him to shoot the puck,” Setterholm said. “He has a good shot and in the past he has not taken those shots – he has passed them up. This year we are telling him if he gets that good look, put the puck on the net. He has been doing that.”

That score held up as both Kraus and Ball continued to be brick walls.

Setterholm said that kind of altered his offensive scheme.

“We were having so much success beating their defensemen down low and cycling that in the third period we did not want to not put pressure on them,” Setterholm said. “But we also did not want to have an odd-man rush back the other way so we pulled our third forward back to play less aggressive so we did not get burned on a breakaway.”

New Ulm still held that slim 1-0 lead when Minnehaha pulled its goalie with 37 seconds left in the game and then called timeout with 16 seconds left in the game and a faceoff in their end of the ice and an empty net.

“I did not know that they would keep their sixth guy on the ice,” Setterholm said. “I thought that they would put their goalie back in. They kept their sixth guy real wide off of the faceoff. We wanted to get the puck deep into their zone – we were not thinking about putting it into the net. We had Lucas Heiderscheidt take the faceoff.”

The puck hit a defenseman and laid there for Helget to put it in and end the game.

The Eagles begin their road show Thursday night at Waseca.

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