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Panthers miss opportunity to improve section standing

Park Rapids' Jamie Stewart and Crookston's Paul Bittner (5) battled in the corner during Thursday night's game.

One of Pete Stahnke's main goals for the Park Rapids-Menahga-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team this season was to finish in the top-four spots in the Section 8A standings.

The Panthers had the perfect opportunity to take a major step toward accomplishing that feat with home games against section rivals Crookston and Lake of the Woods.

Instead of making a strong case to receive the No. 4 seed with a pair of wins, the Panthers dropped in the section standings with a pair of shutout losses at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena.

Crookston dominated Thursday night's game, outshooting the Panthers 52-10 in a 6-0 victory.

On Friday night, the Panthers used a 25-5 advantage in shots in the first period for a 44-34 edge in shots in the game, but Lake of the Woods escaped with a 2-0 victory.

The two losses dropped Park Rapids to 4-7 against section teams and 7-12 overall. With losses to Thief River Falls, East Grand Forks and Warroad and two losses to Crookston, the Panthers would be ranked no higher than No. 5 for the section tournament right now. Park Rapids also lost to Kittson Central and split with Lake of the Woods, which most likely has the Panthers sitting in the No. 7 spot.

In order to finish in the top-six spots to skip a first-round playoff game and automatically advance to the section quarterfinals, the Panthers will have to defeat Red Lake Falls, Bagley/Fosston, Kittson Central and Detroit Lakes down the stretch.

Pirates dominate Panthers

Crookston's defense limited the Panthers to only 10 shots on goal to sweep the season series.

The Pirates, who edged Park Rapids 5-4 in overtime back in December, used rebound goals by Dylan Klatt and Curtis Regan to claim a 2-0 lead after the first period. Crookston held a 10-3 edge in shots in that period.

A power-play goal by Ryan Bittner extended the Pirates' lead to 3-0 as Crookston held an 18-3 advantage in shots in the second period.

Crookston used an 18-4 edge in shots to score three more times in the third period. Klatt and Brady Heppner scored in a span of 39 seconds before Alex Clauson scored with 58 seconds to play.

Goalie Cody Brumbaugh finished with 46 saves while Crookston goalie Kollin Erdman recorded the Pirates' first shutout of the season. It was only the second time all year the Panthers didn't score a goal.

The win lifted Crookston to 5-5 against section teams and 6-14-1 overall.

Crookston 2 1 3.....6

Park Rapids 0 0 0.....0

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Crookston, Klatt (P. Bittner, Edevold), 5:32. 2, Crookston, Regan (P. Bittner, Fossand), 8:04. Penalties: None.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, Crookston, R. Bittner (P. Bittner, Edevold), 11:09. Penalties: Park Rapids 2, Crookston 1.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, Crookston, Klatt (Edevold), 5:56. 5, Crookston, Heppner (Proulx), 6:35. 6, Crookston, Clauson (Fossand, R. Bittner), 16:02. Penalties: None.

GOALIE SAVES: Crookston (Erdman) 3-3-4-10. Park Rapids (Brumbaugh) 16-15-15-46.

Bears shut out Panthers

Doug Potts made 44 saves as the Panthers were shut out for the second night in a row.

After a scoreless first period that was dominated by Park Rapids, the Bears took a 1-0 lead on Cole Nelson's goal at the 12:37 mark of the second period.

Robbie Schulz' goal at the 9:34 mark of the third period sealed the win as LOW outshot the Panthers 29-19 in the final two periods.

Brumbaugh made 32 saves for the Panthers, who went 0-for-3 on the power play. The Panthers skated to a 5-1 win at Lake of the Woods earlier in the season.

LOW, which went 0-for-5 on the power play, improved to 4-5 in the section and 5-13 overall.

Lake of the Woods 0 1 1.....2

Park Rapids 0 0 0.....0

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring. Penalties: LOW 3, Park Rapids 2.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, LOW, Nelson (unassisted), 12:37. Penalties; LOW 1, Park Rapids 2.

THIRD PERIOD: 2, LOW, Schulz (Dahl, Olson), 9:34. Penalties: LOW 1, Park Rapids 3.

GOALIE SAVES: LOW (Potts) 25-13-6-44. Park Rapids (Brumbaugh) 5-17-10-32.