Spuds top line shines in home-opening win over Brainerd

After losing top three point producers from 2018-19 squad, Moorhead's top line ready to replace scoring punch.

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Cullen Gess scores his second of two goals on the night against Brainerd Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the Moorhead Sports Center in the Spuds 6-0 win. Rick Westra / Special to The Forum

MOORHEAD — If Tuesday night was any indication, Moorhead should have no problem replacing its top three scorers from last season.

The Spuds’ new top-line players showed in their 6-0 win over Brainerd in their boys hockey home opener at Moorhead Sports Center. And goalie Hudson Hodges picked up where he left off, stopping 19 shots in a shutout.

“Up front, there’s guys that have played, but not a lot extensively,” Moorhead head coach Jon Ammerman said. “It’s going to be fun to see their growth.”

Moorhead lost its top-three point producers from last year’s team that won the Class 2A, Section 8 championship and made it to the state tournament, in Kyler Kleven (27 goals, 14 assists), Isaac Henkemeyer-Howe (11 goals, 27 assists), and Nolan Westra (23 goals, 17 assists).

But the top line of left wing Caden Triggs, center Carter Johnson and right wing Cullen Gess look like capable replacements so far. Triggs and Gess each tallied two goals and an assist in Tuesday's blowout over the Warriors, while Carter Johnson had a goal and an assist.


“You hope in high school and even college athletics that your oldest kids will be your best players,” Ammerman said. “That’s been the case for us the last few years. And thankfully we’ve had enough coming up from our junior varsity and bantam program that can be our next wave of players. We definitely have the potential to have some guys fill in those key spots.”

Gess has already racked up three goals and four assists this season, while Triggs has three goals and three assists, and Johnson has a goal and four assists. Gess had two assists in Moorhead’s win over Wayzata last Friday, and had an assist in its loss to Maple Grove on Saturday.

“The first couple of games, you don’t really know what you have until you start to review and look,” Ammerman said. “I think our defensemen played a lot better than they did last weekend. We capitalized on opportunities a lot more, and

The top line has produced through three games, but there are plenty of opportunities for other players to step up. Ammerman expects to see a major impact from Michael Overbo, Max Dronen and Lukas Feir.

“Our top line has the most experience coming back,” Ammerman said. “But a guy like Max Dronen was on our varsity team, but didn’t get a lot of playing time last year. Michael Overbo had a really good second half last year. And Lukas Feir only played really half a season last year and we’re looking for him to contribute quite a bit.”

The Spuds didn’t waste any time jumping out to a lead on Tuesday, as Overbo put them ahead just over a minute into the first period with an assist from Dronen. Triggs made it 2-0 on a breakaway a couple minutes later. And Johnson made it 3-0 with a power play goal off a rebound 12:13 into the first.


“It helps me dramatically to have a lead,” said Hodges, who notched his first shutout of the season with 19 saves. “It helps me to stay calm and collected. It’s good to have the lead.”

Moorhead’s defense turned into two Gess goals in the second period. Triggs intercepted a pass and dished off to Gess streaking back toward the net all alone. Gess followed that up with another goal about a minute later. He stole the puck from a Brainerd defender and easily scored to make it 5-0.

Triggs scored on assists by Gess and Wyatt Gunkel in the third to make it 6-0.

“My linemates did a great job on the forecheck and luckily that translated into a couple of breakaways,” Gess said. “I was able to finish it off. We just had our sticks on the ice in the neutral zone and our (defense) managed to poke it and they were going the wrong way.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, M, Overbo (Dronen, Feir), 1:13. 2, M, Triggs (unassisted), 4:57. 3, M, Johnson (Holm, Gramer), 12:13.

SECOND PERIOD: 4, M, Gess (Triggs, Johnson), 7:35. 5, M, Gess (unassisted), 9:23.

THIRD PERIOD: 6, M, Triggs (Gess, Gunkel), 11:28.

SAVES: M, Hodges 9-5-5—19. B, Saiko 6-3-7—16.


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