Panthers pluck Hwy 71 Cup from Wolverines

WDC next plays at 7 p.m. at Northern Lakes on Thursday, Jan. 20. They are now 11-6 overall.

Aiden Sutherland at the net with Braden Stewart.JPG
Aiden Sutherland awaits a puck towards the net with Park Rapids' Braden Stewart and Sawyer Torkelson guarding.<br/>
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal<br/>

WADENA — In a close fought battle, Park Rapids eked out a 3-2 win over Wadena-Deer Creek Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Park Rapids came to town hungry for revenge after losing the Hwy 71 Cup to Wadena-Deer Creek on their ice last month 6-3. The Panthers' Quincy Jantz wasted no time in finding the net just 2 minutes into the first period. He was assisted by Nash Mitchell and Jaxon Lund. Mitchell cracked in another one on a power play half way through the first period.

WDC's Dalton Moyer put one in just a minute into the second period with an assist from Cole Woods and Connor Davis. Park Rapids' Mitchell put in his second goal 3 minutes in with help from Jantz and Lund.

Wolverine Aidan Allred had the sole score for the third with assists from Jaeger Pettit and Aiden Sutherland.

While the teams looks evenly matched and were within just a few total shots on goal (38 for WDC and 32 for Park Rapids) of each other, Wadena's disadvantage were five missing players out of their usual 19 member team. MJ Lunde and Jack Koranda were at least two significant absences due to illness. This created some interesting line changes for the home team.


"We were running three defense back there for two out of three periods," WDC captain Dalton Moyer said, emphasizing the added stress on some of the team. "Four defensemen can be a bit tiring."

Still, Wolverine head coach Scott Woods called it a great battle.

"We knew it would be a tall task with five players out of the 19 skaters we have out of the line up," Woods said. "We didn’t want to make excuses but rather give the best effort we could. The kids gave a great effort to hang in there and had opportunities to win the game. It didn’t go our way but we are proud of the effort they put forth with a jumbled up line up."

The win was a morale boost for the Panthers, but was just another solid game of hockey for their first-year head coach Bill Moore. It's his 34th year overall in coaching.

"The hardest thing when we played Wadena at home, they celebrated on our ice, and now we celebrate on their ice. You never want to see someone celebrating on your ice. It's kind of a pride thing," coach Moore said.

Jaeger Pettit slides over with Nash Mitchell.JPG
Nash Mitchell leans in about to land on WDC's Jaeger Pettit in play Tuesday, Jan. 18, in Wadena.<br/>
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal<br/>

Moore didn't see either team having much of an advantage in the game. He praised some of the Wolverine players as great athletes. He also felt it was hard to compare teams these days as COVID has been striking teams left and right at different moments in the season.

It was a difficult loss for the Wolverine players, who have been enjoying one of their better seasons in recent years, now at 11-6 overall

"We've had more wins this seasons than we've had the last two seasons combined," Moyer said. He contributes it to team chemistry and improved skills.


"It's fun. Everybody knows their role and they are OK with it," Moyer said. He believes his team, at full strength, can play well against any group they come across.

Looking ahead, the Wolverines have some tough games against Detroit Lakes and Little Falls. Goalie Gunner Olson said the team is prepared for what's to come. It's his first year in that spot as a sophomore. Both teams' goalies guarded well. Olson had a .906 save percentage while the Panthers' Sawyer Torkelson was at .947%.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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