The Mora/Milaca Mustangs boys hockey team hoisted the inagural Bill McGann Holiday Classic Tournament trophy in Duluth on Thursday, Dec. 30. The road to the championship, which was hosted by Proctor High and Duluth Marshall, started with a 8-1 victory over Ely on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at St. Luke’s Sports and Event Center. Mora blasted to a 3-0 lead at the first break against a young Ely team. Mora’s Austin Rudek, assisted by Jack Kritzeck and Trenton Fore, scored the game’s first goal. Parker Mitchell scored the next three goals, for his third hat trick of the season. Assisting on two of Mitchell’s goals were Trenton Fore and Jack Kritzeck. Ely’s Ozzy Anderson scored the only goal for the Timberwolves in the second period to make it 4-1. Throughout the rest of the game, Jack Kritzeck, Carter Ashworth and Trenton Fore would each score goals for Mora. Sophomore Carson Donaghue’s goal in the third period was his first varsity goal of his career. Jack Kritzeck and Trenton Fore led the team with three assists. Korbin Kahle and Parker Mitchell had two assists. Carter Ashworth, Austin Rudek, Daniel Stillday and Cameron Price each had one assist.
Game 2 vs. Minnehaha Academy
Game two of the tournament was against Minnehaha Academy. Despite their 1-7 record coming into the game, Minnehaha was hoping to get their second victory in a row by playing a smaller school than what they’re used to, but Mora’s senior forward Carter Ashworth scored early on in the first period for a quick 1-0 lead. Mora survived three in the penalty box at one time after Ashworth’s goal in the first period but Mora held Minnehaha at bay. Parker Mitchell stayed hot by scoring on a great pass from defenseman Trenton Fore. Minnehaha’s Connor Mellesmoen scored with two minutes left in the first period to make it 2-1.
Minnehaha’s Garrett Eide evened up the score 2-2 a few minutes into the second period, but Mora dominated the rest of the period. Less than a minute later, Parker Mitchell gave the lead back to Mora as he was assisted by Charlie Kritzeck and Trenton Fore. A minute after that, Parker Mitchell scored his sixth goal of the tournament, making it his fourth hat trick of the season and second of the tournament. Assisting on the goal was Jack Kritzeck and Jordan Szucs.
Mitchell wasn’t done there. Later in the second period, he scored his fourth goal of the game to make it 5-2. From there, Mora was in control the rest of the game, dominating the zone and pouring in shots. Jordan Szucs, Austin Neyssen and Carson Donaghue all scored goals for the Mustangs. Mitchell netted his fifth goal of the game. Austin Neyssen and Carson Donaghue later scored in the second period to give Mora a 9-2 victory.
Mora at Duluth Marshall
Having beaten two weaker opponents earlier in the tournament, outscoring Ely and Minnehaha by a combined score of 17-3, Mora was in position to winning the 10-team tournament outright with a victory. Only Proctor and North Shore were undefeated thus far in the tournament, but Mora had scored more goals, thus giving them the edge. With the championship in the back of their minds, Mora was also looking for some redemption against the team they needed to beat to win the championship. Mora had lost to Duluth Marshall earlier in the season by a score of 6-3 on Dec. 9 on their home ice. Mora gave the Hilltoppers their fastest and most physical game of the tournament.
Mora’s defensemen Jack Kritzeck, assisted by Parker Mitchell and Trenton Fore, scored first as Mitchell split the defenders up the middle and made a beautiful pass to Kritzeck for a short range slapshot for the game’s first goal. Later in the first, Mora’s senior defenseman Hunter Cokley got the puck to Trenton Fore to make it 2-0 after Fore wristed it to the back of the net from 15 feet away. With 35 seconds left in the first period, Austin Rudek backhanded the puck up into the net to make it 3-0 on a scrum right in front of the Marshall’s goalie Coleman Cowell.
The Hilltopper’s had no answers from Mora’s speed and physicality. “We had to play the body,” head coach Kevin Nolt said when asked about the game plan. “Once they [Marshall] know they’re going to get hit, they turn the puck over or play the puck faster than they want which creates more opportunities for us. We outplayed them last time but didn’t get physical with them and they were able to use their skill and get some goals on us. It was from that point on, the 6-3 loss to Marshall, where we focused on playing the body versus our opponents.”
Mora is 5-0-1 since losing to Duluth Marshall on Dec. 9. Mora continued their game plan throughout the championship game vs the Hilltoppers, holding onto a 3-0 lead until Jack Kritzeck scored his second goal of the game to make it 4-0 with 5:55 minutes in the game. That goal gave Kritzeck his 100th career point.
Mora/Milaca goalie Presley Patrin made the championship game a lot better as he shut out the Hilltoppers, blocking all 28 shots-on-goal, and earned his second shutout of the season. Mora is the first team to have their name etched onto the Bill McGann Holiday Tournament trophy. A great memory and achievement for the Mustang hockey program.
Mora travels to Moose Lake on Thursday, Jan. 6 and plays on their home ice on Tues. Jan. 11 against Northern Lakes. The puck drops at 7 p.m.