The Austin Packers boys hockey team was on the road to All Seasons Arena in Mankato Thursday night for their Big 9 Conference opener versus the East Cougars, and it was the Cougars breaking the game wide open with six second-period goals on their way to an 8-2 win.
Two goals from East senior forward Andrew Bastian in the first period gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead at the end of one, and he and senior defenseman Alexander Morgan assisted on an even-strength goal from junior forward Christian Theuninck only :10 seconds into the second period to make the score 3-0. Boston Beltz made the score 4-0 Cougars with a goal only :28 seconds later, but Austin came firing back with goals from Gahvin Schaefer, his team-leading third of the season with assists to Grady Carney and Sam Eyre at 4:12, and from Toby Holtz, with assists to Carney, his team-leading fourth of the season and from Issac Stromlund at 5:53 to halve the Mankato East lead to 4-2. Mankato East had an answer, though, as they reeled off four unanswred goals in a span of 6:05, the last coming with only :57 second to play for the 8-2 final.
Austin was held to only 12 shots on goal for the contest while East fired 37 shots at Packer netminder Ethan Knox, who made 29 saves. Cougar goaltender Lucas Rheaume-Barnett turned aside 10 shots for the win between the pipes. The Packers were 0-1 on the power play in the game, while Mankato East went 1 for 4.
Austin is now 0-3 on the young season, and the Packers will travel back to All Seasons Arena in Mankato next Tuesday evening to take on the West Scarlets for their next game, with the varsity face-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. that evening.