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Seniors help Storm rally for win

Park Rapids' Abby Fischer (4) battled Morris/Benson's Kayla Benson for control of the puck Saturday.

Youth led the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team to an early lead in the season opener Saturday afternoon.

Experience took over late in the game as Morris/Benson scored five unanswered goals as the Storm stormed back for a 6-4 victory at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena.

Freshman McKenna Brand scored two goals and set up goals by freshman Mady Vaudrin and sophomore Ashley Thelen as the host Panthers jumped out to a 4-1 lead late in the second period.

But the senior crew of Sara Rajewsky, Sam Falk, Dani Schultz, Kelly Mahoney and Monica Lindblad led the Storm back by combining for five goals and six in the final 20 minutes as Morris/Benson rallied for the win.

Brand set up Vaudrin on a power-play goal with 9:28 to play in the first period and followed with power-play goals at the 8:57 and 2:58 marks to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead. Jessica Gapinsky assisted on Brand's second goal as the Panthers scored on half of their six shots in the period.

After Rajewski scored on a power-play goal 2:54 into the second period, the Panthers reclaimed a three-goal advantage when Brand set up Thelen at the 3:27 mark.

The Storm responded 26 seconds later when Sam Falk scored with 3:01 to play in the second period. Morris/Benson held an 11-8 edge in shots in that period.

Goals by Rajewski and Schultz in a span of 21 seconds midway through the third period tied the game at 4-4. Rajewski's goal with 4:19 to play and Schultz's goal with 3:21 remaining gave the Storm the win.

Rajewski had a hat trick and two assists, Schultz scored twice and Falk had a goal and two assists to lead the Storm.

Brand finished with two goals and two assists for the Panthers.

Park Rapids goalie Bailey Moore made 28 saves while Brooke Falk had 26 saves for the Storm.

"I thought we played well," said Park Rapids head coach Chris Albee. "We did a lot of great things in the first two periods. In the third, Schultz and Rajewsky just picked us apart. We just couldn't contain those two. Overall the kids played well. We will just get better as the year goes on."

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Park Rapids, Vaudrin (Brand), 7:32. 2, Park Rapids, Brand (unassisted), 8:03. 3, Park Rapids, Brand (Gapinski), 14:02. Penalties: Morris/Benson 3, Park Rapids 1.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, Morris/Benson, Rajewski (S. Falk), 2:54. 4, Park Rapids, Thelen (Brand), 13:33. 2, Morris/Benson, S. Falk (Rajewski), 13:59. Penalties: Morris/Benson 1, Park Rapids 2.

THIRD PERIOD: 3, Morris/Benson, Rajewski (Mahoney, Lindblad), 8:20. 4, Morris/Benson, Schultz (Rajewski), 8:41. 5, Morris/Benson, Rajewski (Mahoney), 12:41. 6, Morris/Benson, Schultz (S. Falk), 13:39. Penalties: Morris/Benson 2, Park Rapids 0.

GOALIE SAVES: Morris/Benson (B. Falk) 6-7-13-26. Park Rapids (Moore) 10-9-9-28.