The Steele County Blades junior hockey team won a roller coaster of a game Sunday night on Dudley Otto Rink at Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna. The Blades came back from a 5-2 deficit for a 6-5 win over Rum River. The winning goal late in the third period was an emotional one for Nick Samuelson (Waterloo, IA).

In addition to being the clincher, and coming on his mother's birthday while she watched from the stands, Steele County coach Nick Adamek says there was even more to it than that, "Nick had gotten hit a little high earlier in the shift...He went and immediately picked up the puck...We were pretty poor on the power play (in the game)...What we've been preaching the last 15 games is put it on net. He used a screen that was in front of him and a snipe of a goal. It was a very emotional goal for him."

The Blades jumped out to a quick 2-0 in the first period on goals by Connor Lee (Sydney, Australia) and Ryley Cook (Austin, MN). The Mallards roared back with the next five goals to build a 5-2 lead just passed the halfway point of the second period.

Steele County took a timeout after the third goal. "Basically a message of settle down. Get back to what worked for us in the first period...Our forecheck was great to start the game," said Adamek.

"The guys pulled together. The positivity on the bench was contagious. It was one of the great team efforts we had this year."

The comeback trail for the Blades began less than a minute after Rum River scored the last of their five straight goals. Seva Bannikov (Minsk, Belarus) scored at 13:38. His line mate Umar Kurbanov (Moscow, Russia) tallied in the closing minute of the middle stanza with assists from Ethan Tarver (Gillette, WY) and Danila Besedin (Moscow, Russia). That made the score 5-4 entering second intermission.

The Blades evened the game in the opening minute of the third period as Lee, just back from playing with Team Australia in the World Juniors, snapped off a shot from the right circle at :51 unassisted.

Veteran Jake Freise (Chicago) made the transition to defense. Adamek said, "We wanted to get some speed and a bit more composure on the back end. Jake's an experienced player. He's the all-time leader in games played for the Steele County Blades, just recently passed Kaleb Combs (West Valley City, UT) in that category. He just knows how to calm things down." This is Freise's fourth season with the Blades.

Josh Brown (Minnetonka) earned the win in goal. The Mallards out shot the Blades 37-35. Steele County hosts the Minnesota Blue Ox Friday, January 31 at 7 pm. It is Youth Hockey Night. View their full schedule.

Congratulations are also in order for Adamek. He and his wife Erin celebrated the birth of daughter Winnie on January 3. Their son Luc is close to his third birthday (February 6).

Also read: Teams Rally Around a Variety of Local Causes and find some player interviews in this recent Blades' blog.