Huskies skate past Prairie Ridge in playoffs

Grayson thwarts 16 shots on goal in final period to close out win

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The OPRF Hockey Club edged Prairie Ridge 5-4 on Saturday night to advance to the next round of the State hockey playoffs.

Prairie Ridge entered the game as one of the top teams in the Metro Central Conference, holding a 16-5-3 record. The Huskies faced off against Metro West rival and No. 2-ranked Neuqua Valley earlier in the week (after deadline).

Against Prairie Ridge, first-period goals by Andy Dirgo and Jack Brofman gave the Huskies a 2-0 advantage early. Dirgo scored just over three minutes into the game, backhanding home the rebound of Brofman's shot. Brofman scored midway through the period, tipping home a Jonah Rice wrist shot from the right point.

The Huskies surrendered a power play goal late in the period, but held a 2-1 lead going into the second period.

Brofman scored his second goal of the night early in the second period to put the Huskies up 3-1. With the Huskies having a 4-on-3 advantage due to penalties, Brofman tipped Brett Newman's wrist shot from the left point past the Wolves goalie. However, Prairie Ridge answered right back, scoring on a shot that appeared to bounce off the back of goalie Bob Grayson's pad and into the Huskies' net. Grayson made several spectacular saves late in the period to preserve the Huskies' lead.

With a minute remaining in the period, Dirgo's outlet pass sent Matt McDonnell up the right side of the ice and in on the Prairie Ridge goalie. McDonnell's initial attempt was stopped, but Mike Beard was in position to bang home the rebound and increase the Huskies' lead to 4-2.

Mike Slovak's unassisted goal early in the third period made it a 5-2 game. Slovak's slap shot deflected off a Wolves player and into the net, and appeared to give the Huskies some breathing room.

Facing elimination, Prairie Ridge stepped up its game. The Wolves cut the lead to 5-3 with a power play goal midway through the period and scored again with 32 seconds remaining to make it a one goal game.

The Huskies dug in at that point, with coach Rick Meegan sending out his first line, seniors Beard, McDonnell, and Kenny Javor. McDonnell won the face off, and along with Beard and Javor, kept the puck in the Prairie Ridge zone for the remainder of the game, denying the Wolves a chance to pull their goalie and put an extra skater on the ice.

Grayson stopped 16 Prairie Ridge shots in the third period and 40 of 44 for the game.

A press release contributed to this report.

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