The Austin Packers boys hockey team played host to the Faribault Falcons in a Big 9 Conference matchup for their home opener for the 2023-2024 season at Riverside Arena Thursday evening, and in a game that saw the two teams combine to commit 22 penalties for a total of 59 minutes, Austin’s Gahvin Schaefer capped a Packer comeback from a 4-1 deficit with a goal in overtime to push Austin to a dramatic 6-5 win.
Faribault’s Oliver Linnemann opened the scoring at 2:34 of the first period for a 1-0 Falcon lead, but Kyler Flanders knotted the game at 1 apiece for the Packers at 6:54 of the period, with assists to Cody Peterson and Grady Carney. The Falcons answered with goals from Beau Velishek at 7:46 and Brody Redding :30 seconds later at 8:16 for a 3-1 Faribault lead, and the Falcons made the score 4-1 at the end of one period with Linnemann’s second tally of the game at 14:02.
The comeback then started for Austin in the second period when Isaac Anderson scored on the power play at 7:30, with an assist to Matthew Phanchan, and a short-handed tally from Grady Carney at 9:03 of the period cut Faribault’s lead to 4-3. Brody Redding then tallied his second goal of the game on the power play at 9:55 to give the Falcons a two-goal lead at 5-3, but Isaac Anderson’s even-strength, unassisted goal for the Packers at 10:05 of the period cut the Faribault lead back to one at 5-4 at the end of two.
Cody Peterson then drew Austin even at 5 apiece in dramatic fashion with the squad’s third power-play goal of the game, unassisted with only :34 seconds left, and Gahvin Schaefer then won the game for the Packers at the 6 minute mark of overtime, with an assist to Isaac Anderson to give Austin two overtime wins in their two games to open the new season.
The Falcons outshot the Packers for the game 59-33, with Austin’s Daran Plunkett making 54 saves to earn the win between the pipes, while Dustin Boyd stopped 27 of the 33 shots he faced in taking the loss for the Falcons. Each team was whistled for 11 penalties in the game, with the Packers called for a total of 29 minutes in the penalty box, while Faribault totaled 23 minutes. Austin’s power play was 3 for 7 for the contest, while the Falcons were 1 for 6.
Austin opens the season at 2-0, and the Packers return to action next Tuesday versus St. Paul Johnson in a non-conference game, with puck drop at Riverside Arena at 7:00 p.m. that evening.