Matthew Salzle tallied a hat trick in the first period and wound up with four goals and an assist to help lead the Mankato East Cougars past the Austin Packers 12-3 Thursday night in a Big 9 Conference boys’ hockey matchup at Riverside Arena.
The Cougars led 5-0 at the end of one and increased their lead to 7-0 before Bubba Grunewald tallied for Austin at 6:09 of the second period, with assists to Kaleb Ree and Gavin Johnson. Daniel Bequette scored for Mankato East at 9:30 to make the score 8-1, but Ree tallied for the Packers :44 later to cut the Cougar lead to 8-2. Mankato East closed out the second period with two more goals, including one by Shea Gavin with only one second left to increase the Cougar lead to 10-2, and they scored the first two goals of the third period before Grunewald tallied his second goal of the game at 12:27 to make the final 12-3.
Brayden Klapperick was peppered with 52 shots on goal in the net for Austin and made 40 saves, while East’s Caelin Brueske turned aside 27 of the 30 shots he faced for the win. The Cougars were 2-3 on the power play, while Austin was 0-1.
With the loss, Austin is now 0-13 in the Big 9 Conference and 1-19 overall on the season. The Packers are back on the ice Saturday afternoon in Winona against the Winhawks, with face-off at 2:00 p.m.