Luverne tops New Ulm

MANKATO – Gunnar Olson recorded a hat trick and eighth-grader Jaxon Nelson scored twice as the Luverne Cardinals captured their first Section 3A hockey title with a 6-1 win over New Ulm at All-Season’s Arena.

Brandon Helget got the lone goal for New Ulm with Judd Davis getting the assist.

New Ulm goalie Brach Kraus stopped 34 of 40 Luverne shots in the game.

“Hats off to Luverne,” said New Ulm coach Erik Setterholm, who saw his team finish 17-11. “They played a heck of a hockey game”

After a scoreless first period, the Cardinals and New Ulm exchanged goals with Nelson beating Kraus on a backhander at the 1:43 mark before Brandon Helget matched the score when he skated in front of Luverne goalie Kendall Meyer (24 saves in the game) and whistled a wrist shot by him less than a minute later to knot the game.

But Helget’s goal was the last as Meyer stonewalled New Ulm the rest of the game.

Luverne took a 2-1 lead when Nelson tallied a shorthanded goal at the 4:56 mark and increased that to 3-1 on Olson’s first goal on a Cardinal power play.

Olson’s second goal at the 8:25 mark of the third period lifted the Cardinals to a 4-1 lead. Three minutes later he got his hat trick for a 5-1 lead.

Andrew Verhey’s goal at the 15:17 mark salted the game away for Luverne.

“I felt that in the third period that for quite a bit of the first part that we kind of dominated play,” Setterholm said. “They come up the ice and put one in. Sometimes that is just the way it is – bounces do not go your way and they go the other team’s way.”

“I guess that things kind of snowballed after that,” Setterholm said. “They kept coming hard – they came hard until the end of the game. They wanted it. But our kids played hard to.”

New Ulm loses seniors Judd Davis, Cole Reinarts, Kelton Schmitz, Jared Larson and Kraus.

“We will have pretty much the same team coming back but we lose some key players,” he said. “We bring a good core back and the message here is that it is more fun to have the blue ribbon around your neck then the red one.”

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