Boys Hockey: Willmar erases 4-0 deficit to defeat Park Rapids

The loss drops the Panthers' record to 13-11-1 entering the Section 8A tournament.

Willmar's Gabriel LaRue (21) and Park Rapids' Paul Peterson battle to control the puck during a game at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

PARK RAPIDS – Willmar overcame a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team 6-5 at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena to close out the regular season on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Park Rapids controlled the first 18 minutes in taking the early lead.

Conner Hanson opened the scoring 5:46 into the game on an assist from Braden Stewart before Josh Hillukka and Talen May set up a goal by Kale Ravnaas 25 seconds later. Joey Hillukka’s goal at the 13:28 mark gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead after the first period. Wyatt Tischer and Cooper Brovold assisted on that goal.

The Panthers took a 4-0 lead when Stewart and Joey Hillukka assisted on a power-play goal by Jeron Pinoniemi 47 seconds into the second period. Willmar responded by scoring four unanswered goals to tie the game. Izac Duran scored 17 seconds after Pinoniemi’s goal while Ethan Stark and Trenton Larson followed with goals as the Cardinals scored three times within a span of 2:14. Arron Fischer’s goal at the 14:20 mark tied the game. Park Rapids regained the lead 17 seconds later when May and Pinoniemi set up Joey Hillukka. Willmar held a 22-11 advantage in shots on goal in that period.

Fischer scored at the 7:09 mark of the third period to tie the game before Stark scored the game-winner on a power-play goal with 14 seconds to play.


Goalie Sawyer Torkelson made 43 saves as the Panthers were outshot 43-31. Park Rapids ended the regular season with a 13-11-1 record, including a 2-6-1 mark in the final nine games. Willmar improved to 9-16.

The Panthers will open the Section 8A tournament by hosting Crookston at 6 p.m. in a play-in game on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Willmar 0 4 2…6

Park Rapids 3 2 0…5

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Park Rapids, Hanson (Stewart), 5:46. 2, Park Rapids, Ravnaas (Josh Hillukka, May), 6:11. 3, Park Rapids, Joey Hillukka (Tischer, Brovold), 13:28. Penalties: Willmar 1, Park Rapids 1.

SECOND PERIOD: 4, Park Rapids, J. Pinoniemi (Stewart, Joey Hillukka), :47. 1, Willmar, Duran, 1:04. 2, Willmar, Start (Gorans, Staska), 2:08. 3, Willmar, Larson (Duran, Swart), 3:18. 4, Willmar, Fischer (Gregory, Van Buren), 14:20. 5, Park Rapids, Joey Hillukka (May, J. Pinoniemi), 14:37. Penalties: Willmar 2, Park Rapids 1.

THIRD PERIOD: 5, Willmar, Fischer (Gregory, Stark), 7:09. 6, Willmar, Stark, 16:46. Penalties: Willmar 0, Park Rapids 3.

GOALIE SAVES: Willmar (Thole) 8-9-9–26. Park Rapids (Torkelson) 7-18-12–37.

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