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Boy's hockey: Park lets Forest Lake slip away with late goal

Park sophomore forward Ryan McCarthy passes to an open teammate in the second period Saturday, Dec. 9, against Forest Lake. John Molene / contributor1 / 4
Park goalie Luke Maul looks like he has this Forest Lake shot stopped in the first period, but the puck managed to just get across the line for a 1-0 Forest Lake lead Saturday, Dec. 9. John Molene / contributor2 / 4
Park senior forward Grant Glazier brings the puck down the ice on a breakaway in the third period against Forest Lake Saturday, Dec. 9. John Molene / contributor3 / 4
Anthony Brings of the Wolfpack shoots against Forest Lake in the second period Saturday, Dec. 9. John Molene / contributor 4 / 4

Park staged a stirring third-period rally Saturday, Dec. 9, only to see it all slip away half a minute later.

The Wolfpack scored twice in a minute late in the third period to tie visiting Forest Lake, but the Rangers answered with the game-winner 30 seconds later with just 1:11 left to claim a dramatic 4-2 victory.

Park came into the game off a solid 4-2 win over rival East Ridge, but looked sluggish early on the Cottage Grove Ice Arena home ice Saturday night. After a scoreless first period, Forest Lake scored twice in the second period and looked like it might skate home with a 2-0 win.

Instead, Park's Keegan Oberding scored on a power play with 2:32 remaining and teammate Tony Brings tied it at 2-all with an unassisted goal with 1:41 to play.

Park's joy was very short-lived, however, as Forest Lake's Dylan Fink powered in the game winner just 30 seconds later in a stunning turnaround for the Wolfpack. Park pulled its goalie in the final minute to try for the equalizer, but the Rangers added an empty net goal with 42 seconds to play for the final two-goal margin.

"We put ourselves in a tough spot and we were able to work our way back into it in short order and put ourselves in a position and a couple mistakes and boom, there you go, we're back behind the eight ball," said Park coach Jay Moser.

"That's what we have to learn from," Moser added. "Teams that win, win those close games because they have the composure and we have to learn how to play with emotion but not let our emotion get the better of us. You know, just a couple of simple mistakes and the game changes and that's what happened."

Park also failed to take advantage of its power play opportunities, scoring just one goal in five advantages. Forest Lake, meanwhile, was 1 of 3.

Park fell to 1-5 on the season and 1-1 in the Suburban East Conference.

Forest Lake evened its records to 1-1 in the conference and 2-2 overall.

"They didn't give up," Moser said. "Even though a one- or two-goal lead isn't a big lead. But we still battled through and didn't give up and that was good to see. But at the end of the day moral victories only take you so far. Our team leaders are all seniors and juniors so we need to have those guys — they need to know how to win and I'm hoping that if we get this opportunity again we're not going to squander it like we did."

Park's Ryan Lucas and Matt Moreland had assists on Oberding's goal.

Senior Luke Maul stopped 24 of 27 shots for the Wolfpack in goal.

Forest Lake outshot the Wolfpack 28-25, including a big 11-6 edge in the first period.

The Wolfpack skate at Stillwater (2-0, 1-0) Thursday, Dec. 14, at the St. Croix Rec Center.