It's one game at a time as the Owatonna High School boys hockey team pursues it's first Big Nine title since the 1992-93 season. The Huskies beat Mankato West 5-1 Tuesday on Dudley Otto Rink at Four Seasons Centre in "an enormous four-point game" in the words of OHS coach Josh Storm.

The Huskies dominated the first period from the drop of the puck, scoring 64 seconds into the game on Zach Kubicek's 21st of the season off a beautiful feed from Casey Johnson behind the net. Owatonna held West without a shot on goal for the first 11-and-a-minutes of the contest. However, the Scarlets scored a power play goal with under 30 seconds remaining and went into the first intermission locker room at 1-1 despite Owatonna's 14-5 shots-on-goal advantage.

Even as the flow of the game evened out over the next 34 minutes, Owatonna's play makers took over. Taylor Bogen scored on a rebound of a Dom Valento shot 5:06 into the second period on the power play. Valento set up Kubicek with a dazzling pass about four minutes later for a 3-1 lead at second intermission.

Kubicek completed his hat trick at 5:31 of the third period with the assist to Devon Rousch in a short-handed situation. Owatonna's final goal in the 5-1 victory was a length-of-the-ice shot by Wyatt Oldenfendt into an empty net. It was also a shorty. West had pulled their goalie for a 6-on-4 skater advantage.

Zach Wiese stopped 25 shots for the win. Owatonna (16-4, 10-1 Big Nine) plays Rochester Century Thursday at 7:15 pm at Graham Arena with coverage on Kat Kountry 105 FM and the free downloadable Kat Kountry 105 app. The Panthers held off the Huskies 6-5 in early January.

Owatonna has conference games with Rochester Mayo (Saturday, February 8 at 3 pm), Faribault (Monday, February 10 in a makeup), and Mankato East (Tuesday, February 11) afterward, in addition to a big section seeding game against Hastings on Saturday, February 15.

Owatonna's junior varsity beat West 4-0. Youth hockey teams played at first intermission with the varsity team acting as a wall at center ice to keep the pucks in play for the younger players.


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