Scoring trio keys Panthers' success
When opponents play the Park Rapids-Menahga boys hockey team, their main focus is to contain senior center Tucker Coborn, senior defenseman Kevin McMorrow and sophomore center Sam Coborn.
Keeping that trio from putting the puck in the net has proven to be nearly impossible.
The Coborns and McMorrow joined an elite group of Park Rapids hockey players this season by surpassing 100 career points.
Tucker Coborn became the eighth player in the history of the Park Rapids-Menahga boys hockey program to reach 100 points with a goal against Detroit Lakes back on Dec. 15.
McMorrow became the ninth player and first defenseman to join that list with a goal against Red Lake Falls on Jan. 16.
Sam Coborn became the youngest player to surpass 100 career points with a goal against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley on Jan. 26.
Having three explosive scorers on the ice has been a luxury for head coach Pete Stahnke.
"Those three do everything for us," said Stahnke. "We expect them to make things happen. They're our scorers, so we expect them to put the puck in the net, but we also expect them to keep the puck out of our net. They're our leaders on the ice and in the locker room. Those three are everything hockey players should be. They're respectful to the coaches and to the program and they are great team players. I can't say enough good things about them."
That trio has led the Panthers to a 14-6-1 overall record so far this season. Sam Coborn leads the Panthers with 62 points (26 goals, 36 assists) while Tucker Coborn is next with 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists). McMorrow is third on the team with 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists).
According to Minnesota Hockey Hub, Sam Coborn is third in the state in scoring while Tucker Coborn is seventh. Detroit Lakes' Tyler Lane and St. Francis' Joey Benik are tied for the top spot in the state in scoring with 77 points. Eden Prairie's Kyle Rau (60), Virginia's Garrett Hendrickson (59) and Andover's Cal Decowski (58) are ahead of Tucker Coborn.
The Park Rapids trio has put together a powerful power play with 26 goals in 21 games. For the season, Park Rapids has scored on 32 of 98 power plays. At least one member of that trio has had a goal or an assist on 31 of those goals.
On the power play, Sam Coborn has 12 goals and 11 assists, Tucker Coborn has nine goals and 10 assists, and McMorrow has five goals and nine assists. In addition, Tucker Coborn has three shorthanded goals and Sam Coborn has a shorthanded goal and has scored on a penalty shot.
The Coborns and McMorrow had accounted for at least one goal and three points in every game this season until last Friday's 2-1 loss to Lake of the Woods. That trio accounted for 17 points in a 17-1 victory over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, had 11 points in a 6-2 win over the St. Paul Saints, combined for 10 points in an 8-1 win over Bagley/Fosston and had 11 points in a 13-0 win over W-H-A.
"Our job is to put the puck in the net," said Tucker Coborn. "We take a lot of pride in that."
"We have a complete team. Everybody knows their roles," said McMorrow. "So far it's been working for us."
Those three have been consistent scorers throughout their high school careers.
McMorrow has been a four-year starter, tallying 13 points (3 goals, 13 assists) as a freshman, 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists) as a sophomore and 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) as a junior before surpassing 100 career points with his 28 points so far this season.
Tucker Coborn entered this season with 82 points after tallying 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) as a sophomore and 48 points (29 goals, 19 assists) as a junior. Coborn surpassed 100 career points in the sixth game of the season and is currently in third place in school history with 137 career points.
Sam Coborn had 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) last season as a freshman and surpassed 100 career points in only his 47th varsity game.
Zach Lehrke has the No. 1 spot in school history with 212 points (113 goals, 99 assists) while Tyler Lehrke is second with 192 career points (89 goals, 103 assists). Following Tucker Coborn are Darin Hafner (134 points), Pat Albee (122 points), Levi Goeden (122 points) and Chris Knapp (104 points). McMorrow is next with 103 points while Eric Grewe (102 points) rounds out the list of players to score at least 100 points.
The Coborns are also moving up on the Panthers' single-season scoring charts with Sam Coborn's 62 points trailing Zach Lehrke (99), Tyler Lehrke (79) and Hafner (65) while Tucker Coborn is tied with Zach Lehrke and Knapp for fifth place with 55 points. Zach Lehrke (54 and 34) and Tyler Lehrke (34 and 31) hold the top four spots for most goals in a season while Tucker Coborn is fifth with 29. The Lehrkes share the top spot in assists in a season with 45. Hafner is next with 37.
All three have had several impressive games so far this season.
Sam Coborn has tallied hat tricks against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley twice (five goals, three assists in the first meeting and three goals, three assists in the second meeting) and Henry Sibley (five goals). He also had five assists against Bagley/Fosston, four assists against the St. Paul Saints and Northern Lakes, and three assists against Spring Lake Park and Kittson Central.
Tucker Coborn had hat tricks against Detroit Lakes and Northern Lakes, had four assists in the first game against W-H-A, and had three assists against Greenway and the St. Paul Saints.
McMorrow posted a hat trick against Kittson Central and had three assists in the first game against W-H-A.
While individual accomplishments are nice, all three prefer to look at the number of wins the Panthers have instead of where they stand in the stat column.
"We knew all three had high offensive potential. We were hoping Tucker would be in the 50-point area and Sam would score 40 to 50 points again. They've gone beyond that. (As for Kevin), you don't hear of a defenseman scoring 100 points very often. They're fun to watch. Those three give us a lot of confidence," said Stahnke. "The best thing about those three is they do whatever is best for the team. It's more important to them what is on the front of the jersey than what is on the back. To have success as a team, you have to have talent, but you also have to get along. Those three are a big reason why this team gets along so well and why we're doing so well."
After their record-setting careers at Park Rapids are over, all three would like to continue playing hockey at the next level.
Tucker Coborn and McMorrow are looking at playing for the Alexandria Blizzard, a Junior A hockey team playing in the North American Hockey League. Those two would like to move up to the United States Hockey League and sign with a Division I college team. Sam Coborn is also looking at playing hockey at the Division I level when his playing days at Park Rapids are over.
"All three have the skills to be Division I prospects," said Stahnke. "Skill-wise, they are right there. They just need to hit the weight room and get bigger and stronger."
The Panthers' top scorers aren't looking too far into the future. They still have some goals to accomplish this season, namely to reach the Section 8A championship game for the first time in school history.
"We know we can compete (with everyone in the section)," said Sam Coborn. "We're going to work as hard as we can to get there."
"It's anybody's ball game," said McMorrow. "Our big goal is to get to the finals."
"It could go to any of the top seeds," said Tucker Coborn. "Our goal is to get there (to the title game) and win it."