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Balanced Panthers open season with impressive 9-2 win

A balanced scoring attack made Derek Ricke's debut as head coach of the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team a success.

Six different players scored goals and seven different players tallied assists as the Panthers opened the season with a 9-2 win over Bagley/Fosston at the Walker Area Community Center Thursday night.

The Panthers took control early by using a 12-5 advantage in shots on goal to claim a 4-0 lead after the first period. Bjorn Jorgenson opened the scoring at the 3:39 mark with an assist by Cameron Hoyt before Josh Baker scored a shorthanded goal at the 7:31 mark. James Hillukka made it 3-0 at the 13:23 mark before Christoffer Madsen scored with 47 seconds remaining. Brett Pinoniemi assisted on Hillukka's goal while Shea Alto set up Madsen's goal.

After Griffin Brovold scored a power-play goal early in the second period, the Panthers answered with four straight goals to build an 8-1 advantage. Wyatt Halvorson set up Alto at the 3:22 mark, Nolan Pederson scored off a feed from Cody Sagen at the 6:47 mark, Jorgenson scored at the 10:30 mark and Jacob Stewart assisted on another goal by Pederson at the 13:03 mark. Park Rapids held a 16-6 advantage in shots in that period.

Jarret Merschman opened the third period with a goal for Bagley/Fosston before Alto's power-play goal at the 7:36 mark concluded the scoring. Hillukka assisted on that goal.

Austin Jerger started in the nets and made 10 saves on 11 shots while Brendan Kruchowski made three saves on four shots in the third period as the Panthers finished with a 38-15 advantage in shots.

"This was a good start to the season," said Ricke. "The guys played well and they got better as the game went on. We have more depth this year and it was fun to see guys on all the lines contribute."

Bagley/Fosston 0 1 1...2

Park Rapids 4 4 1...9

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Park Rapids, Jorgenson (Hoyt), 3:39. 2, Park Rapids, Baker, 7:31. 3, Park Rapids, Hillukka (Pinoniemi), 13:23. 4, Park Rapids, Madsen (Alto), 16:13. Penalties: Bagley 0, Park Rapids 3.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, Bagley, Brovold, :37. 5, Park Rapids, Alto (Halvorson), 3:22. 6, Park Rapids, Pederson (Sagen), 6:47. 7, Park Rapids, Jorgenson, 10:30. 8, Park Rapids, Pederson (Stewart), 13:03. Penalties: Bagley 0, Park Rapids 1.

THIRD PERIOD: 2, Bagley, Merschman, 2:00. 9, Park Rapids, Alto (Hillukka), 7:36. Penalties: Bagley 2, Park Rapids 0.

GOALIE SAVES: Bagley (Dukek) 8-12-9--29. Park Rapids (Jerger) 5-5-x--10; (Kruchowski) x-x-3--3.