Parker Zander is making up for lost time.
The Mandan senior forward scored three goals for the first time in his high school career and Carter Berger assisted on three goals as the Braves beat Jamestown 6-4 Tuesday in West Region boys’ hockey at the Starion Sports Complex.
Zander scored a goal in each of the three periods as the Braves handed the Blue Jays their fourth straight loss. Berger assisted on three goals, including the two in the third period to help the Braves pull away from a 4-4 tie.
“It was just a special game,” Zander said. “We’re turning the season around from here and getting back on that grind and pushing.”
The hockey gods had not smiled on Zander all season until last weekend when he picked up his first two goals and an assist. It was only a matter of time, Mandan coach Leif Matson said.
“It’s kinda getting a little bit of puck luck,” Mattson said. “We’ve been razzing him a little. The guy works hard every game and in every practice. We know he’s capable of scoring.”
Zander needed just 41 seconds to open the scoring and he did so from his knees. Zander was in the right place after an initial shot hit the goal post and stopped behind Blue Jays’ goalie Riley Gerhardt. Zander poked the puck into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“We’ve been working on our net-front presence and getting bodies in front of the net,” Zander said
Gerhardt finished the night with 33 saves, while his counterpart Jordon Arenz stopped 22 shots.
Blake Kilen made it 2-0 at 5:52 of the opening period when he picked up the puck at the Blue Jays’ blue line and broke in alone to beat Gerhardt with a wrister.
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Arenz stopped three good scoring chances in the first period, two of those by Hunter Nelson, who would eventually get one of three Blue Jay power-play goals.
With 7:50 left in the period, Nelson took a shot that Arenz got a blocker on but failed to control. Nelson scooped up the puck and tried a wraparound, the puck arriving just behind Arenz on the other side of the net.
A series of goals in the second period left Mandan holding onto a 4-3 lead with a period left.
Jamestown’s Nolan Nenow got things started just 25 seconds in with a shot from in close. The Braves’ Drew Condon responded at 2:10 and Jamestown’s Thomas Pfeifer made it a one-goal game again 12 seconds after Condon’s goal.
Zander gave the Braves some breathing room with a goal from the left circle at 6:13, but the Jays came back again on Nenow’s rebound goal on the power play at 7:53 to close within 4-3.
“We usually put ourselves in a tough spot and have to find a way to get out of that,” Zander said. “Just getting dumb penalties … not moving our feet.”
“We got into a little bit of penalty trouble but Jamestown is a good team,” Mattson added. “The penalties hurt us.”
Jamestown tied the game on Nelson’s power play at 2:11 of the third period.
That lasted just over a minute before Justus Sayler took a shot through traffic from the right point and started to turn away before realizing the puck had gone through for a 5-4 lead.
At 7:19, Zander got his hat track with an insurance goal.
Tommy Falk and Braxton Jorissen ended the night with two assists apiece for the Jays.