NEW ULM - As Tuesday's boys' hockey game between New Ulm and LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter/Tri-City United/Cleveland progressed, it became clear that the game would be decided by one goaltender being slightly less perfect than the other.
Bulldogs senior Chris Amsden held the Eagles to only one goal until late in the game, but counterpart Brach Kraus was a perfect 18-for-18 on save attempts, leading New Ulm to a 2-0 South Central Conference victory.
It was the first time the Eagles have shut out an opponent all season.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Wyatt Peterson races to the puck as Sam Gerdts (21) of LeSueur-Henderson/St.Peter/Cleveland/Tri-City United tries to catch him during the third period Tuesday at the New Ulm Civic Center.
"That's exactly what I'm looking for out of these guys," New Ulm head coach Erik Setterholm said. "We haven't done that yet this year, protect our end like that, it's the first shutout we've gotten all year. That's kind of been our goal in practice, to work to this point against a team like this that's pretty tough to play. To get the win and hold them to zero is huge, and really what we needed to do coming to the end of the year now."
The Eagles first pierced Amsden's armor when Brandon Helget scored on an assist by Lucas Heiderscheidt 8:26 into the first period, but the margin stayed at 1-0 until Judd Davis added security with a breakaway goal with 1:52 remaining in the third period (Mitch Neid assist).
New Ulm had a chance to add to its lead with a five-minute power play at the end of the first period when the Bulldogs' Levi Steuck committed a five-minute major for head contact, but Amsden weathered the storm in net.
"He's kind of been a thorn in our side for about five years already, he's a great goaltender," Setterholm said. "He really takes control of the game and gives those guys a chance to win every night no matter who they play, it's nice to see him graduating as far as I've concerned, because I've faced him for five years. He's a heck of a goaltender, Chris Amsden."
The Bulldogs' best chance to tie the game came with 42 seconds remaining in the second period, but Jon Favre's shot hit the left post and stayed out. Kraus saved Luke Regner's attempt on the rebound.
"He did a great job tonight, no question," Setterholm said of Kraus. "Obviously he wants a shutout more than anyone else, but I was happy with the rest of the team, the way we helped him out in the zone tonight and just showed up to play tonight."
The Eagles appeared to have their second goal when Helget sent a pass to Colin Huffman that ended up in the Bulldogs' net with six minutes left to play, but the goal was disallowed since the puck entered the net off of Huffman's skate.
Davis left no doubt about his goal, sending the puck into the top of the net in a one-on-one showdown with Amsden.
Amsden finished with 30 saves in the game.
The win was extra special for the Eagles since the game was part of the team's Senior Night celebration.
"It's nice to get this win on Senior Night against a South Central Conference opponent that tied us earlier in the year," Setterholm said. "It was a great win for the seniors, we just wanted to emphasize we wanted to have fun, but we want to win the game tonight, so they did that."
New Ulm (8-7-1) will hit the road to play Orono at 7 p.m. on Thursday and will then play at Minnehaha Academy at 2 p.m. on Saturday.