Panthers proud of accomplishments

Pete Stahnke was looking for the Park Rapids-Menahga boys hockey team to contend for the Section 8A title this season. The Panthers put themselves in position to fulfill that goal by going 16-7-2 during the regular season and earning the No. 4 se...

Pete Stahnke was looking for the Park Rapids-Menahga boys hockey team to contend for the Section 8A title this season.

The Panthers put themselves in position to fulfill that goal by going 16-7-2 during the regular season and earning the No. 4 seed for the Section 8A playoffs.

Park Rapids had a 7-3-2 record against section teams during the regular season, including rare wins over East Grand Forks and Lake of the Woods and a scoreless tie with Crookston.

In the quarterfinals of the section playoffs, the Panthers were shut out by No. 5-seeded East Grand Forks 7-0. Stahnke hopes that disappointing loss isn't what people remember about the 2005-06 team.

"I thought we had a great season. We just had one bad night," said Stahnke. "The kids were disappointed, but they were proud of what we accomplished this year. We heard so many comments from other coaches at the section tournament about what a great year we had. We've gained a lot of respect in the section."


The Panthers got off to a slow start as losses to Silver Bay (4-3), St. Paul Como Park (6-4), St. Bernard's (3-2) and Detroit Lakes (8-2) and a 10-1 win over Prairie Centre led to a 1-4 record.

Park Rapids only had two poor outings over the next 20 games, going 15-3-2 during that stretch.

Despite being outshot 38-22, the Panthers defeated East Grand Forks 3-2 to snap a five-game losing streak to the Green Wave. That marked only the second victory ever over EGF.

After defeating Wadena-Deer Creek 5-3 and Bagley/Fosston 12-1, the Panthers split games at the Proctor tournament, defeating Proctor 7-3 and falling to St. Francis 5-2.

The Panthers followed with a 6-2 win over Pequot Lakes before dropping a 3-1 decision at Kittson Central.

A 7-4 win over Lake of the Woods started a five-game winning streak. The Panthers fired 55 shots on goal in that win, which snapped an eight-game losing streak to LOW.

Victories over W-DC (7-2), Red Lake Falls (4-2), Crosby-Ironton-Aitkin (10-1) and Pequot Lakes (5-2) gave the Panthers an 11-6 record.

Thief River Falls snapped that winning streak with a 4-2 victory in a game that was tied 2-2 in the third period. Thief River Falls would earn the No. 1 seed for the section tournament and would advance to the state tournament.


After a 4-1 win over Fargo Shanley and a 5-3 win over Detroit Lakes, the Panthers settled for a 2-2 tie with Red Lake Falls. The Panthers then blanked Kittson Central in a 6-0 win and Crookston in a 0-0 tie before routing C-I-A 16-2 to gain a share of the Mid-State Conference title with Detroit Lakes with 7-1 records. The 16 goals in a game were the second most in school history, trailing an 18-2 win over Pequot Lakes in 2000. A 5-1 win over Bagley/Fosston closed out the regular season.

The 16 wins are the third most in the history of the Park Rapids boys hockey program. The Panthers went 19-5 in 1999-2000 and followed with an 18-6 record in 2000-01.

In the playoff opener, East Grand Forks held the Panthers to only 14 shots on goal to advance. The loss marked the fourth time in the last nine years the Green Wave has eliminated Park Rapids from the playoffs.

"We got off to a slow start, but the kids stayed positive and they kept working hard," said Stahnke. "The kids told me not to worry. They said we always start slow and pick it up at the end of the season. We knew we had a good team. The win over East Grand Forks was a huge confidence booster for the kids. After that win we played well the rest of the season."

For the season, 18 different players scored goals and 20 different players had assists as the Panthers averaged 4.9 goals a game. Park Rapids allowed 2.7 goals a game and held opponents to two goals or less 14 times.

Leading the Panthers this season was the senior class of Levi Goeden, Alex Ehler, Ryan Paulouski, Nate Wittenburg, Tyler Condiff, Jeremiah Johnson, Brian Hall, Justin MacPherson, Tom Kading, Scott Maves and Tyler Delaney.

Goeden finished second on the team in scoring with 24 goals and 24 assists for 48 points to become only the sixth player in school history to surpass 100 career points. Goeden moved into a tie with Pat Albee for the No. 3 spot in career scoring with 122 points (55 goals, 67 assists). Only Tyler Lehrke (192 points) and Darin Hafner (134 points) had more points. Goeden's season totals rank No. 9 in assists, No. 8 in goals and No. 6 in scoring for a single season.

Ehler, Paulouski, Wittenburg and Hall also had solid seasons offensively.


Ehler was third on the team in scoring with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) to raise his career total to 61 points (28 goals, 33 assists).

Paulouski followed with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points to end his high school career with 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists).

Wittenburg concluded his high school career with 57 points (30 goals, 27 assists) after compiling 17 goals and 13 assists for 30 points this season.

Hall had seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points as a defenseman to raise his career numbers to 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points.

Condiff and Johnson gave the Panthers two solid goalies.

In 12 games, Condiff went 8-3-1 with a 2.37 goals against average. Condiff allowed 28 goals and made 331 saves this season. In three varsity seasons, Condiff had a 15-8-1 record with 80 goals allowed and 639 saves in 28 games.

Johnson went 5-5-1 this season, allowing 39 goals and making 306 saves in 12 games for a 3.51 goals against average. In 43 career games, Johnson went 20-22-1 with 174 goals allowed and 1,307 saves.

MacPherson contributed 8 points (two goals, six assists) as a defenseman and will graduate with 17 career points (nine goals, eight assists).


Maves had one goal and one assist while Delaney had one goal this season.

Also playing key roles for the Panthers this season were juniors Adam Eskola, Alex Torkelson, Chris Bruhn, Justin Dennis, Joe Penning, Patrick Restemayer and Ryan Naeve; and sophomores Zach Lehrke, Bill Winkler, Colter Hensel, Zach Knapp, Derek Ricke, Curtis Tolle and Mark Smith.

Lehrke had an impressive first varsity season by leading the Panthers in scoring with 25 goals and 30 assists for 55 points. That was the third-best offensive output in a single season in school history. Lehrke's 30 assists are the third most in a season and his 25 goals share the No. 5 spot.

Winkler also made an impact in his varsity debut with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists).

Giving the Panthers three solid lines and depth on defense were Eskola (three goals, four assists), Hensel (four goals, three assists), Knapp (three goals, four assists), Torkelson (two goals, five assists), Ricke (one goal, three assists), Bruhn (one goal, three assists), Dennis (three assists), Tolle (two assists), Penning (one goal, two assists), Restemayer (one assist) and Naeve. Smith was the team's No. 3 goalie, going 3-0 in three games with three goals allowed and 37 saves.

"We had some ups and downs, but we had fun," said Stahnke. "This group worked so hard and got along so well. It was a fun season."

Looking ahead to next season, the Panthers have several key positions to fill. But Stahnke is looking for this year's juniors and sophomores and the addition of some players from the Bantams to lead the Panthers to another winning season next year.

"It's going to be tough to replace our seniors, but I think we're going to be all right," said Stahnke. "We try to instill in the kids that they can win every game. The kids expect to win and they know they can win. We lose a lot of seniors, but we return a lot of talent. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people next year."

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