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Skyler Wenninger scored three goals and added an assist and Johnny Solma assisted on all three of Wenninger's goals as Luverne knocked off No. 12-ranked (Class 1A) Princeton 7-4 on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Princeton Ice Arena.
"We've been playing together since we were Pee Wees," Wenninger said. "We kinda know where each other are, and it's just second nature for us."
The matchup featured two small-school programs with aspirations of reaching the state tournament.
Luverne (11-2-1) returns most of its lineup after losing to New Ulm in the Section 3A championship game. Princeton (11-4-0) has defeated two traditional top-10 ranked opponents in St. Cloud Cathedral and Little Falls.
Princeton's speed kept Luverne contained most of the first period. The Tigers outshot Luverne 13-5, but a Wenninger goal with 40 seconds left in the first tied the score at 1.
Luverne took control from there, scoring three goals in both the second and third periods.
Luverne took advantage of a series of Princeton penalties, scoring two power-play goals. Luverne was able to score when it had its chances, something the Cardinals' coaching staff stressed in the pregame talk.
"Princeton has a lot of depth and they're fast, we're going to have to be quick with our breakout," Luverne co-head coach Derrick Brown said about his team's gameplan. "They play a really good defensive zone, so when we get our chances bury them."
1. Skyler Wenninger, Luverne
The senior forward scored three goals and notched an assist in the final minutes as he flipped the puck from the defensive zone and it slowly slid toward Princeton's empty net after the Tigers had pulled their goaltender in favor of an extra skater. Connor Hoffman gave the puck a touch for the goal.
2. Jonny Solma, Luverne
The senior forward had assists on all three of Wenninger's goals and played a vital role in the third period when he routinely cleared the puck, allowing Luverne to get fresh players on the ice in the crucial final minutes.