ALEXANDRIA — Northstar Christian Academy in Alexandria is hosting a full slate of games with multiple hockey programs in town through Sunday, and the Knights’ 16U squad got off to a good start Friday.
This weekend’s games at the Northstar Sports Complex are part of a fundraiser that will take place with Knights players wearing special jerseys honoring the Alexandria Fire and Police Department. These shirts will be auctioned off in an online auction that will raise funds for the two local departments.
Northstar’s 16U team opened play Friday against the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders in a game that saw Alexandria natives Brayden Berg and Beck Liden both shine in a 3-0 win.
“There’s a lot of excitement,” Knights 16-and-under head coach Tim Jackman said. “It is something that we are extremely proud of and delighted to honor firefighters and police officers. It took a little while to get our game going, but our guys came out and played very physically. When they play like that, we are a good hockey club.
The Knights are 33-6-4 and are ranked 43rd in the nation at the 16U level. Northstar took a 1-0 lead against the RoughRiders on a goal by Woodlands, Texas native Ryan Murphy on assists from Max Evans (Waterdown, South Dakota) and Jacob Lundeen (Seattle, Washington).
The Knights took that 1-0 lead in the first intermission before scoring twice more in the second period. Berg scored early in the period with an assist from Lincoln Hjelm (Omaha, Nebraska). Bronson Hunt of Long Beach, New York then made it 3-0 on assists from Sam Kartch (Duluth) and Tanner Hunt (Long Beach, NY).
“We just kept it simple,” Berg said. “We kept the forecheck on them and continued to play our normal game that we’ve been training for all week. We’ll just keep moving forward. »
Berg leads this team in points at 51 after scoring his 30th goal in 34 games played. He added 21 assists to help lead an attack for Northstar who are averaging 3.6 goals per game.
“I just come to the rink every day to try to improve myself,” Berg said of the key to that success. “I have helpful line mates who also help me by feeding me. Everything is fun.
Jackman, who played 483 games with multiple National Hockey League teams, credited Berg with taking his game to the next level this season by finishing more consistently around the net.
“He’s always had speed to get chances, but now the puck is going in the net,” Jackman said. “He has a little more composure, a little more contact around the net. His shooting is improving, and it’s just something he continues to work on. He does a lot of good things away from the puck. He is a very talented young man. He has a bright future and he will continue to work.
The Knights outshot the RoughRiders 27-17 as Liden improved his goalscoring record to 15-6 with the 17-save shutout. His defense limited Rocky Mountain’s good scoring chances, but Liden made some tough saves in the final two periods that kept the shutout intact.
“Just constant hard work,” Liden said of what has marked a good season for him so far. “Like Brayden said, it’s coming to the rink with the mentality to keep improving. For me, it’s to push these boys to improve every day. It’s a two-way street that helps us all.
Liden helps anchor a defense that is allowing just 1.72 goals per game this season. He led the team in 20 games with a .927 save percentage and 1.80 goals-against average this weekend.
Max Weilandt of Northbrook, Illinois is 14-3 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. Merik Grinaker (Fargo, ND) is the team’s youngest goaltender. He also impressed with a 0.71 goals-against average and a 6-0 record.
“There’s a very strong base in the net for our team,” Jackman said. “It gives everyone confidence. They work hard in practice, take ownership of their craft. They want to improve as goalkeepers, and all three are very competitive. »
Forward Alex Klimek has 4 goals and 12 assists in 41 games played as he joins Berg and Liden as another Alexandria native helping this sophomore program to a winning season.
“They’ve been great contributors to our program,” Jackman said of Klimek, Berg and Liden. “They have a strong foundation from the program they came from. Alex and Brayden are extremely intelligent hockey players. They are fast, they are competitors and Beck is just a hungry young man who wants to keep improving. We are very lucky that they want to be part of our program and see them continue to grow as young men and as hockey players.
1/seven: Northstar Knights 16U forward Bronson Hunt of Long Beach, New York leads the celebration to the bench after his second period goal gave the Knights a 3-0 lead against the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders on January 28, 2022. The Knights’ victory improved the 16U team to 33-6-4 overall this season.
2/seven: Northstar Knights defenseman Max Evans looks for a free teammate during the Knights 16U game against the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders on January 28, 2022.
3/seven: Northstar Knights forward Ryan Murphy carries the puck behind the net against the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders on January 28, 2022.
4/seven: Northstar Knights 16U defenseman Shane Burns carries the puck along the boards as he looks for an open teammate January 28, 2022 against the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders.
5/seven: Northstar Knights 16U defenseman Bauer Berry drives the puck towards the net during the Knights’ win over the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders on January 28, 2022.
6/seven: Northstar Knights 16U forward Andrew Leung of Seattle, Washington is hit along the boards as he battles for a loose puck against the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders on January 28, 2022.
seven/seven: Northstar Knights 16U forward Landon Dauner, 12, fights for a face-off during the Knights’ win over the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders on January 28, 2022.
The 16U team has two games left this weekend as it takes on the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals at noon Saturday and then Sioux Falls at 1 p.m. Sunday. Northstar’s third-ranked 18U team kicks off its opener of the three-game weekend Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
“We want to keep improving, growing as a group and winning the Dixon Cup in a few weeks,” Berg said. “Our big goal is to win the Dixon Cup for the league we’re in. This is the next big challenge for us. If we continue to play as we are, I think we have a good chance.
Both Northstar programs are strong contenders for the Dixon Cup title in their North American Preparatory Hockey League divisions. Jackman wants his guys to focus on continuing to come together as a group as this 16U squad works toward its end-of-season goals.
“The most important thing would just be unity in our team,” Jackman said. “That they are ready to serve and sacrifice for each other. Not everyone plays on the manpower, not everyone plays on the manpower. Some guys play more than others, but having the joy of being a team and a family, we will win games for each other and play for each other. That’s what I would like to see. Then continue witnessing in other programs what Christ is doing in our locker room and in our program that we attend.
SCHEDULE OF MATCHES AT THE NORTHSTAR SPORTS COMPLEX
JANUARY 28 – Noon – U16 Knights vs. Rocky Mountain RoughRiders (RMR); 2:30 p.m. – U18 Sioux Falls (SF) vs CMA; 5 p.m. – U16 SF vs. Milwaukee Jr. Admirals (MJA); 7:30 a.m. – U18 Knights vs. MJA
JANUARY 29 – Noon – U16 Knights vs MJA; 2:30 p.m. – U16 SF vs RMR; 5 p.m. – U18 Knights vs. RMR; 7:30 p.m. – U18 SF vs MJA
JANUARY 30 – 8 a.m. – U16 MJA vs. CMA; 10:30 am – U18 MJA vs RMR; 1pm – Knights U16 vs SF; 3:30 p.m. – U18 Knights vs. SF
ONLINE AUCTIONS: To view the online auction that will benefit the Alexandria Fire and Police Department, visit https://web.dashapp.io/auctions/knightshockey. Other items are added as they arrive. The auction opened on January 23 and closes at 5 p.m. on January 30.