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Panthers win title, end 2007 unbeaten

Zach Knapp, Zach Lehrke and Bill Winkler combined for 12 goals and six assists in leading the Park Rapids-Menahga boys hockey team to the title at the Eveleth-Gilbert tournament.

Lehrke's two goals and an assist in the third period rallied the Panthers to a 6-3 win over North Metro in the quarterfinals on Dec. 26.

In the semifinals on Dec. 27, Lehrke's hat trick and two assists led the Panthers to a 9-1 win over Waupaca, WI.

Goalie Mark Smith's 28 saves, two goals by Knapp and a goal by Winkler sparked the Panthers to a 3-2 win over Irondale in the championship game on Dec. 28.

Those three wins, plus a 5-1 victory over Bagley/ Fosston on Dec. 20, lifted the Panthers to 11-0 on the season and to the No. 12 ranking in the state Class A poll. Park Rapids plays at Kittson Central today (Saturday) at noon.

Panthers rally in opener

A four-goal third period rallied the Panthers past North Metro in the tournament opener.

Knapp's goal in the first period and Landon Kohl-rusch's goal in the second period kept the Panthers within 3-2.

Goals by Lehrke and Knapp at the start of the third period gave the Pan-thers the lead for good. Lehr-ke sealed the win by assisting on a goal by Winkler and scoring an unassisted goal.

Smith made 19 saves as the Panthers held a 35-22 advantage in shots.

North Metro 2 1 0 3

Park Rapids 1 1 4 6

FIRST PERIOD: 1, North Metro, Rosett (Johnson), 9:36. 2, North Metro, Burrell (Eukel), 13:36. 1, Park Rapids, Knapp (unassisted), 14:42. Penalties: North Metro 1, Park Rapids 2.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, North Metro, Burrell (Rosett), 4:27. 2, Park Rapids, Kohlrusch (Winkler), 13:47. Penalties: North Metro 4, Park Rapids 3.

THIRD PERIOD: 3, Park Rapids, Lehrke (Paulouski), 2:08. 4, Park Rapids, Knapp (Kohlrusch), 3:06. 5, Park Rapids, Winkler (Lehrke), 9:00. 6, Park Rapids, Lehrke (unassisted), 16:44. Penalties: North Metro 1, Park Rapids 1.

GOALIE SAVES: North Metro (Felton) 13-11-5-29. Park Rapids (Smith) 7-4-8-19.

Panthers control Waupaca

The Panthers dominated Waupaca in the semifinals as a 37-13 edge in shots led to the 9-1 rout.

Unassisted goals by Lehrke and Tucker Coborn gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead after the first period.

A six-goal second period sealed the outcome. Lehrke scored twice, including a shorthanded goal, and had two assists in that period. Winkler scored on the power play while Knapp, Cody Schirmers and Curtis Tolle contributed goals.

Schirmers concluded the scoring with his second goal of the game in the third period. Andy Floyd assisted on that goal for his second assist of the game.

Smith made nine saves before being replaced by Dan Ricke, who saved all three shots he faced in the third period.

Park Rapids 2 6 1 9

Waupaca 0 1 0 1

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Park Rapids, Lehrke (unassisted), 5:16. 2, Park Rapids, Coborn (unassisted), 11:47. Penalties: Park Rapids 2, Waupaca 1.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, Park Rapids, Knapp (Hensel, Winkler), 3:42. 4, Park Rapids, Lehrke (unassisted), 4:36. 1, Waupaca, Yeska (Donaldson), 5:48. 5, Park Rapids, Lehrke (Mickelson, McMorrow), 7:04. 6, Park Rapids, Schirmers (Floyd), 10:57. 7, Park Rapids, Winkler (Lehrke, Knapp), 11:49. 8, Park Rapids, Tolle (Lehrke), 13:49. Penalties: Park Rapids 1, Waupaca 1.

THIRD PERIOD: 9, Park Rapids, Schirmers (Floyd), 8:18. Penalties: Park Rapids 2, Waupaca 0.

GOALIE SAVES: Park Rapids (Smith) 5-3-1-11; (Dan Ricke) x-x-3-3. Waupaca (Lane) 13-7-3-23; (Martens) x-x-5-5.

Panthers capture title

Knapp's power-play goal at the 13:20 mark of the third period proved to be the game-winner as the Panthers defeated Irondale in the championship game.

After a scoreless first period, Knapp scored at the 14:51 mark of the second period to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Schirmers and Kohlrusch assisted on that goal.

Irondale tied the game on a power play early in the third period before Derek Ricke set up Winkler for the go-ahead goal at the 4:22 mark. Coborn and Kevin McMorrow assisted on Knapp's goal to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead.

Smith made 28 saves as the Panthers held a 46-30 edge in shots.

Irondale 0 0 2 2

Park Rapids 0 1 2 3

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring. Penalties: Irondale 1, Park Rapids 2.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, Park Rapids, Knapp (Schirmers, Kohlrusch), 14:51. Penalties: Irondale 0, Park Rapids 1.

THIRD PERIOD: 1, Irondale, Baker (Richardson), 4:14. 2, Park Rapids, Winkler (De. Ricke), 4:22. 3, Park Rapids, Knapp (Coborn, McMorrow), 13:20. 2, Irondale, Baker (unassisted), 14:26. Penalties: Irondale 5, Park Rapids 4.

GOALIE SAVES: Irondale (Bortot) 19-11-13-43. Park Rapids (Smith) 7-15-6-28.