Layten Liffrig’s Four-Point Game Lifts Mankato East Over Northfield, 6-4
It was a scoring bonanza Saturday night at Northfield Ice Arena as the Mankato East Cougars topped the Northfield Raiders 6-4. With the loss, Northfield stays one spot under Mankato East in third place, as the Cougars continue to chase Big Nine leaders Mankato West.
The scoring started early when #5 Zach Lebens scored for the Cougars 71 seconds into the first, with assists from #9 Hayden Guillemette and #15 Quintin Steindl. A hooking penalty at 8:39 to #17 Will Tidona put Northfield on the penalty kill, but no shots made it to goaltender #1 Micah Olsen.
The Cougars would strike again at 11:50, thanks to #22 Layten Liffrig’s first goal of the evening, with an assist from #11 Jake Schrieber. But the Raiders responded two minutes and nine seconds later, when #18 Davis Royle got assists from #21 Ryan Will and #11 Carson VanZuilen to put the puck past goalie #29 Riley Burnett.
Penalties quickly dulled Northfield’s momentum. A Cougars power play for #20 Josh Kruger’s interference minor allowed Liffrig to score his second with less than four minutes to go in the period. Guillemette earned his second assist of the night, while #8 Brett Borchardt tallied his first assist. But Northfield’s penalty kill would fare better, killing off the interference minor assessed to #9 Spencer Klotz at 16:49.
The Raiders wasted no time in the second, tying the game within the first five minutes. #16 Cayden Monson scored at 2:45 (assists by #8 Matt DeBuse and Klotz) and Royle scored his second goal 17 seconds later (assists by VanZuilen and #21 Ryan Will).
Northfield seemed to be in prime position to take the lead when Mankato East’s #2 Daniel Bequette took a five-minute major for boarding at 3:09. But the Cougars refused to yield, and Liffrig secured his hat trick with a short-handed goal at 5:31 (assist from Steindl).
The Raiders prevented Mankato East from getting any shots on goal during the hooking minor to Tidona at 9:54, but Steindl earned his third point of the night when he assisted on #5 Zach Lebens’s goal at 12:30.
The third period began with a goalie change for Northfield, as #30 Keaton Walock came in for Olsen. The change gave the Raider momentum enough for Tidona to score (assist by Monson) five minutes and twelve seconds in.
Once again, Northfield had opportunity to tie the game, as Steindl took a cross-checking penalty at 8:21. But Mankato East withstood the Raiders’ barrage and Liffrig earned his fourth point of the night, assisting #23 Jacob Kanzenbach’s goal at 16:54 (first assist by Schrieber).
With this win, Mankato East improves to 9-2-0. Liffrig now leads the team with 33 points. The Cougars will host Owatonna on Thursday 2/25.
Klotz’s assist was his 22nd of the season, putting him tied for second place for most assists in the MSHSL.
Northfield (7-3-1) will face Rochester John Marshall on 2/25.