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Marlin boys fall to Sioux Falls in first round of state hockey tournament

Mitchell's Alex Murtha battles for the puck with Sioux Falls' Ryan Erickson during the Marlins' 5-1 loss in the opening round of the state varsity boys' hockey tournament Friday at Larson Ice Center in Brookings. (photos courtesy of Kevin Maiers/

BROOKINGS -- The Mitchell Marlins were defeated 5-1 in the opening round of the boys' varsity state hockey tournament Friday.

Mitchell goalie Weston Gauger made 34 saves on 39 shots on goal. The Marlins made 16 shots on goal in the game.

The Marlins (3-19) hung with the Flyers in the first period. Mitchell came out of the period only a goal down but was outshot 18-4. Sioux Falls' Ryan Erickson made the goal with an assist by Ben Czarnecki with 55 seconds before the first break.

"The puck was in our zone about 90 percent of the time early on," Marlins coach John Lord said. "Wes was making some awesome saves for us. He was coming up with big ones. He kept us in the game longer than what most goalies can."

Two minutes into the second period, Czarnecki scored with an assist by Caleb Anderson on a power play to go ahead 2-0.

The Flyers (19-3) put the game away in the third period with three goals. Sioux Falls' Wyatt Nielsen scored the first two for the Flyers in the third period, giving his team a 4-0 lead with 9 minutes, 30 seconds to play.

Brandon Appledorn scored the fifth and final goal for the Flyers and Czarnecki had the assist.

Mitchell sophomore Jacob Rice put the Marlins on the board with just over a minute to play in the third period. Sophomore Jacob Cersosimo got the assist on the goal.

"We were looking for anything we could get, just looking for something positive," Lord said. "We were on a power play and it was a drill we've worked on. This was a textbook play that we worked on Thursday. It was a nice give-and-go and was something to get out of the game headed into (today)."

The Marlins play sixth-seeded Huron at noon today in Brookings. The Marlins beat the All-Stars in their opening game of the season 2-1 but lost the next two meetings.

"Huron is a good team," Lord said. "They looked really good in the first round in their loss to Pierre. I think we can take advantage of their defense. They have some forwards who can really move the puck nicely, so our defense will have to be ready to go, too."

Mitchell is in a must-win situation to play for a place Sunday.

NOTES: Lord said junior forward Justin Berens was injured in Friday's loss and is out for the remainder of the tournament. Lord said Berens injured his shoulder in the first period.