The Austin Packers boys hockey team kicked off a three-game homestand towards the end of the regular season at Riverside Arena Saturday afternoon versus I-90 rival Albert Lea in a Big 9 Conference and Section 1A matchup, and it was Eli Farris and Connor Pirsig each tallying hat tricks with three goals apiece as the Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one period of play on their way to a 9-3 win.
The Packers trailed 6-0 in the second period when senior forward Cade Morrison tallied his third goal of the season at 3:57, with assists to fellow senior forward Isaac Stromlund, his 13th of the season and to senior forward Isaac Swenson, his second. Sophomore forward Gavin Brekke scored his fourth goal of the season on the power play at 14:23 of the period to make the score 8-2 at that point, with another assist to Stromlund, his team-leading 14th, and also to senior defensman Toby Holtz, his ninth, and Isaac Swenson scored his third goal of the season with :42 left in the game to account for the 9-3 final, with an assist to junior forward Garrett Grabau, his second of the season.
Albert Lea peppered the Austin net with 61 shots Saturday afternoon, with the Packers registering 17 shots on net, and senior goaltender Ethan Knox turned away 52 of the 61 shots he faced, and Ledger Stadheim made 14 saves to earn the win for the Tigers between the pipes. Austin was whistled for four penalties Saturday for eight minutes, while Albert Lea was called for two penalties for four minutes, and the Packers were 1 for 2 on the power play, while the Tigers were 2 for 4.
With the loss, the Packers are now 3-17-1 overall on the season, and 1-13-1 in the Big 9 Conference, and Austin has two more home games scheduled for the 2022-2023 regular season, with Fairmont coming to town for a non-conference matchup at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, followed by Northfield at 7:15 p.m. Thursday evening. The Packers will close out the regular season Saturday in Owatonna against the Huskies, with the Section 1A tournament scheduled to start at the high seed on Tuesday, February 21st.