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Panthers overcome slow start

Tucker Coborn (12) looked to slap the puck past Walker-Hackensack-Akeley goalie Micah Bank during the first period of Tuesday night's Section 8A playoff game. (Vance Carlson / Enterprise)

Even though the Park Rapids-Menahga boys hockey team faced a 2-1 deficit after the first period, Pete Stahnke wasn't concerned about how Tuesday night's Section 8A playoff game against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley was going.

"I wasn't worried," said Stahnke. "I told the kids that we were all right. We just were not mentally ready to play. I told the kids to go out there and have fun."

The Panthers had a blast in the second period as seven goals - including consecutive power-play goals by Tucker Coborn in the first minute -sparked a convincing 8-2 victory at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena.

The No. 7-seeded Panthers, who defeated W-H-A by scores of 8-1 and 9-1 during the regular season, were behind despite holding a 16-7 advantage in shots on goal. Two goals by Jake Paulson gave the No. 10-seeded Wolves a 2-1 lead. Ian Johnson set up Coborn for the Panthers' lone first-period goal.

W-H-A took a penalty at the end of the first period, which gave the Panthers some momentum. Another penalty early in the second period gave Park Rapids a 5-on-3 advantage.

The Panthers took advantage of those two penalties when Sam Coborn set up Tucker Coborn at the 16:12 mark. Tucker Coborn completed his hat trick 35 seconds later on passes from Ben Sitz and Sam Coborn. Those two power-play goals gave the Panthers the lead for good.

Four more goals in the next four minutes pushed the lead to 7-2. Jared Naeve fired in a slap shot on a feed from Brandon Mickelson at the 14:19 mark and Kevin McMorrow assisted on a goal by Blake Olson at the 12:42 mark. Jeff Sharp scored with 12:16 remaining in the period before Tucker Coborn scored again with 11:35 showing. Kyle Kanten assisted on Sharp's goal while Cody Schirmers had an assist on Tucker Coborn's fourth goal of the game. Tucker Coborn and Johnson then set up McMorrow for what proved to be the game's final goal at the 3:31 mark.

Park Rapids' defense held the Wolves to only two shots on goal in the second period.

"The kids decided to play in the second period," said Stahnke. "I told the kids to come out and score on the power play and they did. We took off from there."

Both teams combined for only four shots on goal during a scoreless third period as the Wolves managed only one shot on goal.

Goalie Brady Yrjo finished with eight saves while the Panthers tallied 28 shots on goal. The loss ended W-H-A's season at 2-19.

"Except for the first period, things worked out the way we wanted," said Stahnke. "We were able to rest our first and second lines at the end of the second period and in the third period and other kids had an opportunity to play."

The Panthers, who improved to 15-8-3, played No. 2 Thief River Falls at Warroad Friday night with the winner advancing to the section semifinals Monday night at 7 at Warroad.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, WHA, Paulson, 9:09. 1, Park Rapids, T. Coborn (Johnson), 12:17. 2, WHA, Paulson, :56. Penalties: WHA 2, Park Rapids 1.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, Park Rapids, T. Coborn (S. Coborn), 16:12. 3, Park Rapids, T. Coborn (Sitz, S. Coborn), 15:37. 4, Park Rapids, Naeve (Mickelson), 14:19. 5, Park Rapids, Olson (McMorrow), 12:42. 6, Park Rapids, Sharp (Kanten), 12:16. 7, Park Rapids, T. Coborn (Schirmers), 11:35. 8, Park Rapids, McMorrow (T. Coborn, Johnson), 3:31. Penalties: WHA 2, Park Rapids 1.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring. Penalties: WHA 1, Park Rapids 1.

GOALIE SAVES: WHA (Bank) 15-2-3-20. Park Rapids (Yrjo) 5-2-1-8.

Wolfpack wins in overtime

Craig Lindegard's goal 1:47 into overtime lifted Kittson Central to a 3-2 victory over the Panthers on Feb. 19.

Johnson gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal in the first period before Tucker Coborn's goal made it 2-0 early in the second period.

The Wolfpack tied the game with a pair of goals in the second period before Lindegard scored the game-winner in overtime.

Yrjo finished with 24 saves for the Panthers.