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KCs capture first at Bemidji Miller paces team with seven goals


The KC PeeWee ‘AA’ rep hockey team won all four of its games last weekend, including a 6-5 victory over Grand Forks in the final, to win a 16-team tournament in Bemidji.

The KCs had picked up second-place finishes at tournaments in Warroad and Kenora earlier this season.

"We’ve been playing well all year and things have been going good for us," co-coach Gib Tucker said yesterday. "We’re probably playing better than we thought we would."

Nathan Miller led the KCs with seven goals in four games there, including a hat trick in the final against Grand Forks. In fact, it was his last goal in the third that snapped a 5-5 tie to earn the win.

Tucker said the line of Miller, Kris Esselink, and Ira Ottertail was their most dominant one last weekend--scoring key goals while shutting down Grand Forks’ top offensive player.

"We knew Grand Forks had one player who was scoring six or seven goals a game so we wanted to neutralize him," said Tucker. "We felt if we could keep him down to two or three goals, we had a chance to win.

The Fort pucksters jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead in the final before the game was 12 minutes old on goals by Esselink, Miller, and A.J. Tucker.

After Grand Forks sliced the lead to 3-2, Esselink and Miller scored again in a 1:22 span to stretch the margin to 5-2 in the second.

But Grand Forks fought back, scoring a pair of goals less than a minute later and then tying the game at 5-5 early in the third, setting up Miller’s game-winning heroics.

Still, Tucker said the tournament win was a total team effort, noting they received strong performances from all three forward lines as well as their defencemen and goalies.

The KCs reached the final when Tucker scored a dramatic game-winning goal with just 20 seconds to play in a 3-2 win over Cloquet, Mn. in the semi-finals.

Ottertail and Bryce Witherspoon also scored for the Fort.

The KCs opened the tournament--which attracted teams from North Dakota, Minnesota, Manitoba, and Wisconsin--with a 5-3 win over St. Cloud.

Miller led the way with a pair of goals while Dennis Morrison, Donald Kellar, and Tucker added singles.

Then against New Richmond, Wis., Tucker, Esselink, and Miller each scored twice en route to a 9-0 whitewash. Steve Vandulman, Witherspoon, and Kellar also tallied.

The KCs next tournament action is Jan. 16-18 in Dryden, then the team will host one here Jan. 23-25.

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