Opposing teams’ offenses too much for Viking skaters

Viking defensemen Zach Shephard (15) and Alex Miller (16) combine to stop a rush by C-I’s Maverick Nelson. Photos by Greg Hunt/Isanti County News

Losing 6-1, the North Branch boys hockey team couldn’t keep up with Cambridge-Isanti’s offensive threat on Dec. 29.

The Bluejackets owned a 26-9 shots-on-goal edge in the first period, but the game was scoreless until C-I’s Sam Renier found the back of the net on a wrist shot with 1:07 remaining in the opening period.

C-I’s Skye Hunt-Schuft then scored 19 seconds later while left all alone in front of Viking netminder Kolton Keister to make it 2-0 heading into the first break.

The Jackets controlled the play in the second period, out-shooting North Branch 16-5 and scoring three times. Connor Martineau got the Vikings’ only goal, with assists by Brandon Kratzke and Alex Miller, at the 11:19 mark of the second session.

In the end, Kiester stopped 58 of 64 shots on goal.

Vikings fall to Windom Area, 5-3

North Branch goalie Kolton Keister kept the Bluejackets shut out until 1:07 remained in the first period.

On Dec. 28, the Vikings hosted and lost 5-3 to the Windom Area Eagles in a game where goalie Kolton Kiester stopped 23 of 28 shots.

With North Branch down 2-0 in the second period, Brandon Kratzke scored thanks to an assist by Nick Walker at the 9:18 mark. Not a minute and a half later, Viking Mitch Patten buried the biscuit again with assists by Alex Miller and Cole Lee.

But the Eagles were too much for the Vikings in the third, when Mitch Patten’s goal at 2:35 (with Nick Walker and Zach Fairbanks assisting) was exciting but not enough.

The North Branch boys hockey team has a 3-8 overall and 1-2 Two Rivers Conference record. The Vikings will host the Mora-Hinckley-Finlayson Mustangs (3-6) at Chisago Lakes Arena in Lindstrom at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7 before traveling to Schwan Super Rink (# 5) in Blaine to face the Legacy Christian Academy Lions (5-4-2) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10.

— Greg Hunt of the Isanti County News contributed to this report.

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