The Kings feature two of the BEL's leading scorers in Landen Gunderson (pictured) and Gavyn Thoreson.
While the concession stand at Richfield Ice Arena remained conspicuously closed for the entire weekend, the play on the ice for the second weekend of the Bantam Elite League provided the charge typically handled by the hot cup of arena coffee.
The league is comfortably into its home stretch after the Richfield stint, with a pair of metro games to be played on Tuesday night in West St. Paul before the Majors take a road trip to Duluth for its next bonanza.
With the past weekend behind us, let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from a weekend where breakfast was most likely provided by the vending machine.
Will Ingemann, North Stars
Ingemann can be credited with helping turn around the North Stars’ BEL season, as the team has pulled off six straight wins after dropping its first two BEL contest in early August. Ingemann took both of those losses to start the month, but since then has won his next three decisions, including posting a record of 2-0 in Richfield. In addition to the wins, Ingemann stopped 64 shots on 68 attempts for a save percentage of .941 for the weekend.
Biggest Goaltender Workload
Isaiah Paulnock, Rangers
The Rangers, a new concept this season that gives talented young players a chance to compete against the best the BEL has to offer, were backstopped by Eden Prairie’s Isaiah Paulnock all weekend. Paulnock, who’s outstanding play powered the Eden Prairie Peewee AA team an unlikely run to the state championship in March, stood between the pipes for 200 minutes over four games, seeing an absurd 124 shots (31 per game). In spite of the barrage, Paulnock stopped 27 of 31 shots in the Rangers’ last game of the weekend, allowing them to earn their first win 5-4 over the Sharks.
North Stars forward Abe Carlson is a big reason for the team's six-game winning streak.
As mentioned above, the North Stars have been more of a supernova than a simple star since losing its first two games. The North Stars have shown they can win in tight games (three of their last six wins have been by two goals or less), or they can compete in a barnburner, racking up nine goals in a 9-5 win over the high-flying Kings. Hermantown product Zam Plante currently paces the team in scoring with eight goals and 18 points, while Duluth East’s Grant Winkler and the Moorhead duo of Abe Carlson and Aaron Reierson are tied for second on the team with eight total points.
The North Stars rattled off four wins over the weekend, defeating opponents with a variety of playing styles and strengths and weakness. Victims of the North Stars for the weekend included the Penguins, Team Wisconsin, the Kings, and the Bolts.
Landen Gunderson and Gavyn Thoreson, Kings
The two highest-scoring players in the league at 22 and 20 points respectively, Gunderson (Osseo-Maple Grove) and Thoreson (Andover) have been lighting up scoreboards no matter where the BEL is in action. Over the weekend, Gunderson scored five goals and dished out seven assists, while Thoreson tallied seven goals and handed out three helpers. Gunderson is averaging 2.75 points per game and Thoreson is scoring at 2.5 points per game. If the pair continue racking up the points at their current rate, they’ll be in line to challenge for the BEL scoring record of 35 points, held by former BEL and Gentry Galaxy standout Chaz Lucius. Lucius is verbally committed to the University of Minnesota.
Best Game Ending
The Rangers got into the win column in the final game of Sunday’s slate, scoring three straight goals to erase and then overcome a 5-3 deficit late in the second half.
With 6:24 to play in regulation, Rangers forward Brodie Ziemer pulled the upstarts within one goal at 5-4, setting the stage for a wild finish. Osseo-Maple Grove’s Luke Giuliani knotted the game at 5-5 with 51 seconds remaining and then polished off the Sharks with the game-winner with just 15 seconds on the clock. The clutch finish is nothing new for Giuliani, who scored the game-tying and game-winning goals for the OMG Peewee AA team in the finals of the 2018 Lumberjack Cup.
Justin Lesser, Kings
Landon Dauner, Team North Dakota
Admittedly, there are times where defensive prowess is overlooked.
It happens at every level of the game, from Peewees to pros, simply because the effect of the defenseman is challenging to quantify with numbers. Even the statistics designed to highlight defensive play can be skewed. “Goals saved” is incredibly subjective. Did the defenseman actually save the would-be goal? Did the opposing player just lose the puck? How much did the defender’s play hamper the would-be scorer?
Two defenders in the BEL took matters into their own hands this weekend. Justin Lesser netted the game-winning goal for the Kings in their battle with the Rangers, scoring with just over two minutes left in regulation to lift the Kings to victory.
Dauner had his moment in the scoring spotlight, tallying the winning goal in Team North Dakota’s 4-2 win over the Kings on Sunday. For good measure, Dauner cemented the win with an empty-net score with 23 seconds left in the game.
Landon Dauner scored the game-winning goal for Team North Dakota on Sunday.