Boys Hockey: Park Rapids showed improvements, took a step forward – Park Rapids Enterprise

PARK RAPIDS – Bill Moore was pleased with the progress the Park Rapids-Menahga-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team made in its first season as head coach.

The Panthers won 5-7 against Mid-State Conference rivals, 4-9-1 against Section 8A opponents and 11-15-1 overall, marking the first season with double-digit victories since the 2015-16 season.

“It was a good season, but not a great season,” Moore said. “It was a little disappointing. I wish I had been over .500. There were three or four games we could have won, but it was a good step forward. We changed the attitude of the players. They think they can win now. We are starting to get the program back to the tradition we had in Park Rapids. ”

In the season opener, the Panthers outscored 52-26 in a 7-4 loss to Red Lake Falls and 25-24 in a 7-2 win over Prairie Center. PRMWHA used a 31-25 edge in shots to defeat South St. Paul 5-3. The Panthers were outscored 42-20 in a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Lakes and outscored Lake of the Woods 5-4 despite surpassing 32-25. The PRMWHA dominated Breckenridge / Wahpeton with a 48-5 lead in shots in an 8-2 victory.

A losing streak of six games followed, starting with losses to Bagley / Fosston 3-2 (while being outshot 37-32), Northern Lakes 5-2 (despite having a 28-22 edge in shots) and Wadena-Deer Creek 5- 2 (deleted 31-19). Park Rapids lost both games at the Benson Tournament, where Morris / Benson were beaten 32-19 in a 7-2 loss and were beaten 36-28 in a 4-3 overtime loss to Prairie Center. Despite a 33-21 edge in shots, the Panthers lost to Crookston 7-4.


Jaxson Lund was named the Panthers’ Offensive Player of the Year and achieved Mid-State Conference honors after scoring 28 goals and averaging 19 assists in the 2021-22 season.

Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

A five-game unbeaten streak followed as the Panthers were outshot 29-26 in an 8-3 win over Kittson Central, outshot 38-32 in a 3-2 win over W-DC, dominating Breckenridge / Wahpeton with a 30-7 advantage in shots in an 11-0 win, outshot 38-32 in a 2-2 draw with LOW and used a 31-20 edge in shots to defeat Prairie Center 7-1.

The Northern Lakes outscored the Panthers 59-34 in a 9-2 win, Crookston outscored 34-22 in a 2-1 win and Red Lake Falls overcame a 48-16 deficit in shots to a 5-0 win. PRMWHA outscored Ely 52-18 in a 4-1 win and Bagley / Fosston 41-32 in a 6-4 win before surpassing 29-10 in a 5-0 loss to the Detroit Lakes, 35-29 in a 7-3 loss to Kittson Central and 38-21 in a 4-2 loss to Greenway.

The Detroit Lakes won the Mid-State title with a record of 10-0, while the Northern Lakes (7-3) and Wadena-Deer Creek (7-4) followed. Morris / Benson (5-4), Prairie Center (3-10) and Breckenridge / Wahpeton (0-9) followed the Panthers to round out the conference standings.

In the Section 8A standings, Warroad held the top spot with a record of 9-0 with Thief River Falls (8-5), Detroit Lakes (8-3-1), East Grand Forks (5-4), Red Lake Falls (10- 2-1), Kittson Central (4-10-1) and Crookston (4-9-1) after. Bagley / Fosston (3-7) and LOW (3-9-1) completed the section position.

For the Section 8A tournament, the Panthers received seed No. 8 and defeated No. 9 Bagley / Fosston 6-3 with a 32-23 edge in battles before seeing the season end with a 10-0 loss to No. 1 Warroad, which held a 73-8 advantage in shots. Warroad defeated Thief River Falls 4-1 in the section championship and lost to Hermantown 3-2 in the state Class A title fight.

“The fight against Warroad was an eye opener for the kids,” said Moore, whose team surpassed 111-101 while being shut out three times this season. “They have to see how good some players are. I think it kindled fire for our players to become that good.”

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Liam Torola (17) ended his senior season in 2022 by being named the Panthers’ Defensive Player of the Year and receiving the team’s Hobey Baker Award.

Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Leading the Panthers this season were seniors Collin Hoyt, Jaxson Lund, Sam Meier, Nash Mitchell and Liam Torola; juniors Ethan Eischens, Coby Hagen, Joey Hillukka, Quincy Jantz and Wyatt Tischer; and sophomores Eli Eischens, Wyatt Hegg, Connor Hanson, Josh Hillukka, Jeron Pinoniemi, Reed Sharp, Braden Stewart, Sawyer Torkelson, Shad Torola, and Parker Vinge.

Lund, Mitchell and Joey Hilllukka combined for 59 goals and 58 assists for 117 points as the Panthers’ top line. Lund led the team with 28 goals and added 19 assists to 47 points, Mitchell had 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points, and Hillukka had 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points. Lund (13 goals, nine assists in Mid-State matches) and Mitchell (eight goals, eight assists) received honors throughout the conference, while Joey Hilllukka (six goals, 15 assists) and Torkelson (record 3-6, 33 goals allowed , 256 saves) were players with honorable mention at all conferences.

Double-digit points were also Liam Torola (11 goals, eight assists for 19 points), Pinoniemi (eight goals, nine assists for 17 points) and Jantz (five goals, seven assists for 12 points). Other attackers who contributed offensively were Josh Hillukka (one goal, four assists), Shad Torola (three goals, one assist), Tischer (one goal, three assists), Sharp (one goal, three assists), Eli Eischens (one goal) and Hegg (a goal).

Vinge (three goals, five assists), Hanson (three goals, four assists), Hagen (two goals, four assists), Meier (one goal, three assists), Stewart (three assists) and Ethan Eischens also contributed offensively as defenders. (a goal).

Torkelson (7-13-1 record, 627 saves, 82 goals allowed, 4.02 goals per game 0.884 save percentage) and Hoyt (4-2 record, 123 saves, 24 goals allowed, 3.56 goals per game, 0.837 rescue percentage) common time in the nets.

Junior Lars Peterson also saw college time this season; sophomores Justin Baker, Quinn Hoscheid, Reid Pinoniemi, Kaycee Tischer and Evan Wesa; and first-year student Brock Leiren.

The team awards were Lund (Offensive Player of the Year), Liam Torola (Defender of the Year and Hobey Baker Award), Mitchell (Matt Spangler Award) and Joey Hillukka (Panther Award).

Even with the graduation of this year’s senior executives, Moore expects the Panthers to continue to improve and close the gap to the top teams in the conference and section next season.

“Our seniors are definitely going to be missed. They delivered 80% of our attacks,” Moore said. “We are not going to be the same team next year. To be successful we need to find players to go up offensively and we need to do much better defensively as a team. They have had a year of learning my system, so the expectations for success will be much higher. The big thing is to put the work in during the season so we can compete with the higher teams. I’m excited about the nature of this team. The goal is to be on 15 wins. I would be happy about that. The community support has been fantastic and the hockey community is hungry for us to be able to get back to being competitive with higher level teams. Hopefully we can take another big step forward next year. I look forward to it. It must be a lot of fun. ”

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