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Kruchowski, Halvorson lead Panthers past Red Lake Falls

Brendan Kruchowski made one of his 16 saves in Park Rapids' 7-0 win over Red Lake Falls Monday night at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Brendan Kruchowski stopped all 16 shots he faced and Wyatt Halvorson recorded a hat trick as the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team skated to a 7-0 Section 8A win over Red Lake Falls Monday night at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena.

The Panthers finished with a 29-16 advantage in shots in recording their second shutout of the season in their regular-season home finale.

Park Rapids took control by scoring three times in a span of 4:43 in the first period. Nolan Pederson opened the scoring at the 10:02 mark before Halvorson scored back-to-back goals at the 11:29 and 14:45 marks. Carter Opheim assisted on both goals while Jacob Stewart assisted on Halvorson's first goal as the Panthers held a 13-6 edge in shots.

Halvorson played a role in both Park Rapids goals in the second period, setting up Shea Alto at the 1:36 mark and completing his hat trick at the 5:11 mark. Opheim assisted on that goal as the Panthers finished the period with a 10-9 edge in shots.

The Panthers sealed the win on Opheim's goal 4:49 into the third period and Jordan Baker's goal at the 10:42 mark. Halvorson assisted on Opheim's goal while Logan Arndt set up Baker's goal.

The win lifted Park Rapids to 4-9-1 against section opponents and 7-14-2 overall. The Panthers defeated Red Lake Falls 9-1 at Red Lake Falls on Jan. 13.

The Eagles fell to 2-7 in section games and 3-17-1 overall after being shut out for the ninth time this season.

"The best thing about that game was I saw us make some nice passing plays that produced goals. We scored off some rushes. It was nice to see us score on some 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 chances. Hopefully that will give us more confidence," said Park Rapids head coach Derek Ricke. "I'm really happy with how we're playing. We've had our ups and downs, but I think we're heading in the right direction. When we play well defensively and make teams work offensively, we have a chance to be successful. If we play well, I think we can make some noise in the section playoffs."

Red Lake Falls 0 0 0...0

Park Rapids 3 2 2...7

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Park Rapids, Pederson, 10:02. 2, Park Rapids, Halvorson (Opheim, Stewart), 11:29. 3, Park Rapids, Halvorson (Opheim), 14:45. Penalties: None.

SECOND PERIOD: 4, Park Rapids, Alto (Halvorson), 1:36. 5, Park Rapids, Halvorson (Opheim), 5:11. Penalties: Red Lake Falls 1, Park Rapids 3.

THIRD PERIOD: 6, Park Rapids, Opheim (Halvorson), 4:49. 7, Park Rapids, Jo. Baker (Arndt), 10:42. Penalties: Red Lake Falls 0, Park Rapids 2.

GOALIE SAVES: Red Lake Falls (Larson) 10-8-4--22. Park Rapids (Kruchowski) 6-9-1--16.