Packers ride emotions to beat Albert Lea in OT

Published 10:11 pm Thursday, December 6, 2018

Austin senior goalie Ryan Flanders and the Packers went through the gamut of all emotions in Riverside Arena Thursday night, but he finished the night with a smile on his face and a broken glove.

Flanders stopped 60 of the 62 shots he saw as the Packers knocked off Albert Lea 3-2 in overtime.

The game was special for Austin as they were playing it in honor of the memory of Avery Schultz, the daughter of Austin announcer and Bruins President of Operations Brian Schultz, who passed away last week.

Austin goalie Ryan Flanders makes a save during the second period against Albert Lea Thursday night at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/

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“We really wanted to win it for Brian and for Avery,” Flanders said.

The Packers forced overtime when Kaleb Ree tapped in a Hunter Guyette slap-shot with 12 seconds left in regulation and that celebration led to Flanders breaking his glove.

The Tigers (2-2 overall) nearly won the game when a shot went off the post with 6:45 left in OT, but Austin turned the momentum around in transition as Dawson Mills scored the game-winner at the other end.

“That was wild. He beat me high and then I watched them go down and Dawson buried that shot,” Flanders said. “I went crazy.”

Mills stayed calm and collected as he passed the puck to Blaine Krueger and followed his pass up by crashing the net and getting the goal.

Austin’s A.J. Mueller chases down the puck in the second period against Albert Lea Thursday night in Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/

In contrast, Austin racked up 15 penalties — including three majors — in the win.

“It was a good, team win,” Mills said. “We knew after playing with them shorthanded through the second period that we could power through at even strength.”

Nate Murphy scored the other goal for the Packers, who had just 17 shots on net. Austin head coach credited Flanders for standing strong in the net.

“The easiest way to win a game is to have the best goalie and that’s how we feel about Ryan,” Merritt said. “We feel he should be like that every game.”

Austin’s Riley Wempner presssure’s Albert Lea’s Jacob Prihoda against the boards in the second period Thursday night at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/