North stays alive in CSC boys hockey chase...

Polar Arena in North St. Paul was jam-packed for the first boys hockey meeting of the year between School District 622 rivals North and Tartan

Tartan came into the game as the Classic Suburban Conference defending champions.

North was ready and undaunted by the Titans. In a flurry of action that did not disappoint the assembled partisans, North erupted for two goals in the first period.

They added a pair more in the third and went on to claim a 4-2 triumph over the always-competitive Titans.

The game was one of momentum. North came out skating hard and put the Titans back on their heels in the first period as they out-shot their opponents 12-5 in first period action.

The second period belonged to Tartan and it appeared they would take command of the contest.

North had garnered a 2-0 lead only to see Tartan come back and tie the contest at two as play headed into period three.

In the decisive third period the antagonists went at one another tooth and nail.

“Give them credit,” North coach Jerry Diebel said. “They are the champs and they came out to prove it to us. Both teams played hard. It was a typical Tartan/North game. People expect this kind of intensity when we play each other. They owned the second period, but we were able to shake that off and come back to get the win. It was a good game for the fans.”

Diebel then went on to praise North goalie Tom Horner. “Our goalie played well for us. In the end, he made the difference. But then, both goalies (Tartan’s Cary Wood) played well.”

Tartan mentor John Humphrey echoed Diebel’s remarks about the goaltenders. “They both had good games. North got that goal in the first period on a defensive mistake by us,” Humphrey said. “But we came back well in the second period and had some chances to put them away. Their goalie held them in the game. Both teams played hard. But you expect that when these two teams meet.”

The opening tally by the Polars came on a power play chance. Less than a minute after an interference penalty sent a Titan to the sin bin, the Polars brought their fans to their collective feet with the first goal of the contest.

Ben Arnt sent a feed from the corner to the mid slot where Matt Borndale took control. He one-timed a bullet through traffic to the back reaches of the Tartan goal at 8:29 of the first canto.

The Polars fed on the goal and gained momentum. It paid off less than two minutes later when some crisp passing from Alex Orme and David Glaus sent the puck to the slot area.

There, junior winger Aaron Richert whistled a sizzler that eluded Wood and put the Polars up 2-0 at 10:04.

Later in the period, North afforded the Titans an opportunity when they were cited for interference. It took Tartan just a bit over half a minute to boost their hopes.

Steve Eggert feathered a feed out to Garrett Larson and the junior defender let fly a shot through traffic. At 12:44, the back twines of the North net twitched and Tartan moved to within one at 1-2.

The goal lifted the Titans’ spirits and they carried the momentum into the second period. It took a while as North was hanging on the ropes while Tartan bombarded the net and keeper Horner.

Then, feeds from Mike Riggs and Nate Korf found the blade of Mike Kurz.

The sophomore winger found a niche in Horner’s armor and the score became level at two at 15:24 in the second session.

Play in the third period was even as the teams went into a playoff mode of hockey. Most of the action was in the neutral zone as the defenses of both squads stiffened.

Both teams fired five shots on goal. The difference was that two of the North efforts found the mark.

A North charge saw Orme send a pass to Dan Garrity who steered the puck to the stick of Glaus. From the mid slot the senior defenseman let fly. He saw his missile find pay dirt with what turned out to be the game-winner.

At 11:28 of the final stanza, North had forged its second lead of the game and it would hold up to game’s end.

But as hard as Tartan fought to gain the equalizer, the Polars fought back with a staunch defense.

As time ticked away on the clock, the Polars were mounting an effort to keep the puck in the Tartan end of the rink.

Suddenly a pass from Borndale found the stick of Josh Stewart who quickly fed the puck to Arnt.

The sophomore forward fired on net and made good on his 19th goal of the season at 16:27 of the third period (he also has 15 assists for 34 points).

The goal by Arnt was the game-clincher and kept the Polars in contention for the conference boys hockey title with a conference mark of 6-1.

North remains a game and a half behind league leading Hill-Murray (8-0, 15-0), who has yet to suffer a loss.

The defeat dropped Tartan to 4-3 and 6-5-1.

The next meeting between the pair will come Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m. at Tartan Arena.

Coming up for the Polars are road games, Jan. 19 at Richfield and Jan. 21, 2 p.m. at West St. Paul Arena against Sibley.

North will next play at Polar Arena Jan. 26 when they meet Simley.

Tartan will next host Mahtomedi at Tartan Arena Jan. 19. The Titans then take to the road for games Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. against Simley at Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Inver Grove Heights, Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. at Aldrich against Hill-Murray and Jan. 31 at Cottage Grove Arena for a non-conference confrontation against Park.

Games, unless otherwise noted, are 7:30 p.m. scheduled starts.

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