Boys Hockey: W-DC rallies to defeat Panthers, reclaim Highway 71 Cup

A power-play goal and a shorthanded goal in the third period sparked the Wolverines to a 5-3 victory.

Defenseman Sam Meier (18) slapped the puck away from Wadena-Deer Creek's Evan Lunde during a game at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Wadena-Deer Creek scored three goals in the third period to rally for a 5-3 Mid-State Conference win over the Park Rapids-Menahga-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team to reclaim the Highway 71 Cup at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

Cole Woods opened the scoring 6:33 into the game to give W-DC a 1-0 lead before the Panthers responded with goals by Nash Mitchell and Jaxson Lund to carry a 2-1 edge into the second period. Joey Hillukka and Lund assisted on Mitchell’s power-play goal at the 10:46 mark before Hillukka set up Lund with 27 seconds remaining in the opening period. The Wolverines held a 16-7 advantage in shots on goal in the first period.

After MJ Lund tied the game at 2-2 2:21 into the second period, Conner Hanson’s goal at the 15:26 mark gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead. Park Rapids had a 7-5 edge in shots in that period.

W-DC’s special teams proved to be the difference in the third period. Woods scored on a power-play goal 3:37 into the third period to tie the game at 3-3 before Connor Davis scored the game-winner at the 12:53 mark. Jack Koranda sealed the win by scoring a shorthanded goal into an empty net with 19 seconds left. The Wolverines outshot Park Rapids 10-5 in the final period.

Goalie Sawyer Torkelson made 26 saves for the Panthers, who were outshot 31-19 in falling to 1-3 against conference teams and 4-5 overall. Park Rapids, which lost its third game in a row, went 1 for 6 on the power play. The Panthers had possession of the Cup after a 2-1 victory in the second game between these two rivals last season.


W-DC, which went 1 for 4 with a man advantage, improved to 2-0 in the conference and 6-3 overall.

Wadena-Deer Creek 1 1 3…5
Park Rapids 2 1 0…3
FIRST PERIOD: 1, W-DC, Woods (Sutherland) 6:33. 1, Park Rapids, Mitchell (Joey Hillukka, Lund), 10:46. 2, Park Rapids, Lund (Joey Hillukka), 16:33. Penalties: W-DC 1, Park Rapids 2.
SECOND PERIOD: 2, MJ Lunde (E. Lunde), 2:21. 3, Park Rapids, Hanson, 15:26. Penalties: W-DC 2, Park Rapids 0.
THIRD PERIOD: 3, W-DC, Woods (Sutherland, Moyer), 3:37. 4, W-DC, Davis (Moyer), 12:53. 5, W-DC, Koranda, 16:41. Penalties: W-DC 3, Park Rapids 2.
GOALIE SAVES: W-DC (Olson) 5-6-5–16. Park Rapids (Torkelson) 15-4-7–26.

Ethan Eischens (26) looked to clear the puck away from Wadena-Deer Creek's Aron Sutherland during a Mid-State Conference game on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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