Bears ice Rangers at buzzer (VIDEO)

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FL bounces back, beats Hastings

Jack Schmidt and a Bear attacker look on as Ranger goalie Brian Levorson lunges for a shot during last week’s 3-2 home loss to White Bear Lake. (Photo by Clint Riese)

Clint Riese
Sports Editor

Hungry for a statement victory that could be a defining point in their season, the Ranger hockey boys came to play in last Thursday’s home showdown with Suburban East Conference leader White Bear Lake.

Forest Lake held two leads and trailed for only four seconds. Unfortunately, they were they final seconds of a 3-2 loss. A late powerplay chance was all the Bears needed to steal the win. Mike Abrahamson netted the game-winner in the waning seconds.

Late in the powerplay, Lance Carney swung the puck from the top of the zone over to Jake Wahlin at the right-hand point. Wahlin quickly sent it on to Abrahamson near the right side of the net. He moved it in close as a defender neared and fired it past Ranger goalie Brian Levorson for his second score of the game.

Besides the timing of the game-winner, the loss was painful to Forest Lake because it played well for most of the contest. The night started on a great note for the hosts. Seventeen seconds into the second period, senior Lucas Kohls gave Forest Lake a 1-0 lead and became the program’s all-time leading scorer. His breakaway goal down the right side was his 119th point, surpassing 2000 grad Bryan Peltier.

Abrahamson evened the score three minutes later, but Kohls struck again on the team’s second shot of the period one minute after that. With 3:02 remaining, Wahlin capped a wild period with a breakaway goal to tie that game 2-2.

“I was pleased with the effort the kids gave in the White Bear game,” said coach Aaron Forsythe. “The way in which we lost the game was difficult to handle but if we play with the same intensity in section play we have the potential to make a very nice run.”

CJ Franklin assisted on both Ranger goals, while Cody Valley and Jack Schmidt also earned an assist apiece.

Forest Lake put 13 shots on goal, while Levorson stopped 29 of White Bear Lake’s 31 shots.

“Brian Levorson had a very nice game,” said Forsythe. “It’s important that we get solid goaltending heading into the playoffs.”

Rangers 4, Raiders 2

The Rangers bounced back two nights later, though not right away. Visiting Hastings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period.

“Our effort of the first period in the Hastings game was lackluster at best,” Forsythe said. “The kids got away from team hockey and showed some selfish tendencies that have hurt us over the season.”

Fortunately, two periods remained, and the Rangers quickly took control. Senior Kyle VanTassel got the hosts on the board early in the second period, and Kohls tied the game in the middle of the period.

Franklin netted the go-ahead goal with 4:02 left in the game, and Kohls put in an empty-netter to make the final 4-2.

Assists went to Franklin, Kohls, Valley, JT Jurasin, Tommy Tyson and Brett Gravelle. Levorson stopped 26 shots.

“I was extremely happy with our forwards’ energy in the offensive zone, the play of our defensemen in the neutral zone and goaltending during the last two periods,” Forsythe said.

Forest Lake (11-12-1) wraps up the regular season with a home game against Stillwater Thursday, Feb. 16. The Section 7AA play-in game is Saturday. Forest Lake will likely avoid that contest and open the playoffs next Tuesday.