Packers power past Lancers

Published 9:31 pm Monday, December 10, 2018

The Austin boys hockey team didn’t back down as it dominated the puck against La Crescent on its way to a 6-1 win in Riverside Arena Monday.

The Packers (2-1 overall) fired off 50 shots and Ryan Flanders stopped 27 of the 28 shots he saw in net. Austin was able to keep the Lancers (1-6 overall) outside the zone as their defense was led by the physical presence of senior Nate Murphy, who was clearing out plenty of space for Flanders to have a clear view of the puck throughout the night.

Austin’s Nate Murphy clears space against La Crescent in Riverside Arena Monday. Rocky Hulne/

“We had to be physical. We had to step up and get up on them and keep them out of our zone. Someone’s got to do it,” Murphy said. “It’s pretty big for us to come out and be 2-1. We’ve had a few good seasons and this year we’re hoping to keep improving and make it our best one.”

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Much of Austin’s offense came from a defender turned center as junior Bubba Grunewald stepped up with a goal and two assists. Austin head coach Jason Merritt said he was looking for a third line center and Grunewald turned his head in practice.

“Bubba always goes hard,” Merritt said. “We were missing a third line center and he was a guy in practice where we liked how he practiced and we put him in there. So far, so good.”

Austin’s AJ Mueller fights for position against the boards against La Crescent in Riverside Arena Monday. Rocky Hulne/

Grunewald’s goal came on a breakaway where he skated past a pair of defenders and beat the goalie with a shot. It put Austin up 2-0 near the end of the first period.

“I was pretty pumped. It ended up working out,” Grunewald said. “You’ve just got to move your feet and you can’t really stand around.”

Dawson Mills had the big game-winning goal for the Packers when they beat Albert Lea 3-2 in overtime last week and he picked up right where he left off when he scored just 34 seconds into Tuesday’s game to put Austin up 1-0.

“It was nice to get a goal right away,” Meritt said. “After that big win last week we were hoping to carry a little more momentum, but it seemed like we kind of laid back a little bit. It was a Monday game and we don’t play a lot of those. We played better in the third period and we’re happy with the win.”

Kaleb Ree added two goals in the win for Austin and Blaine Krueger had one goal.

Austin’s Bubba Grunewald winds up for a shot on his first period goal against La Crescent in Riverside Arena Monday. Rocky Hulne/


La Crescent 0 1 0    1

Austin 2 2 2    6

First period

(A) Dawson Mills (Ben Stark) :34

(A) Bubba Grunewald 15:30

Second period

(A) AJ Mueller (Grunewald) 3:54

(L) Alex Boudreau (Lucas Wieser) 9:39

(A) Kaleb Ree (Grunewald) 14:59

Third period

(A) Blaine Krueger (Mueller) 15:15

(A) Ree ( Hunter Guyette) 16:52

Shots: Austin — 50; La Crescent — 28

Power plays: Austin — 0-for-1; La Crescent — 0-for-1