Boys Hockey: Improving Wingers shut out by Chanhassen
Allowing late-period goals can be tough on a team. With intermission so close, giving up a goal can deflate a locker room.
After giving up goals with less than 90 seconds on the clock in both the first and second periods, Red Wing had to figure out a way to deal with a popped balloon.
The Wingers were never able to solve Chanhassen’s defense in a 3-0 Missota Conference loss at Prairie Island Arena Saturday afternoon, but the loss was not demoralizing to head coach Bob Rajanen.
“It would have been nice to get the ‘W,’ but like I told the kids afterward, I was more pleased with their work ethic and being disappointed with the loss,” Rajanen said. “That’s the best three periods we’ve played all year. And we need to build off that. And if we continue to play like that, we’re going to turn some heads.”
Red Wing had its chances early on, but it was the Storm that capitalized first when Cole Robertson scored a power play goal at 16:48 of the first period. Then, 32 seconds into the second period, the Wingers go a power play that gave the team two great scoring chances. But Chanhassen goalie Miles Buska stood firm, denying Red Wing a goal.
“I’d be disappointed if we weren’t getting the opportunities. But we’re getting the opportunities, and it’s just a matter of time before they start going in,” Rajanen said.
On the other end of the period, and on the other end of the ice, the Wingers gave up back-to-back goals just 19 seconds apart. Ben Bjerken scored at 15:32, followed by Jared Davidson’s tally at 15:51.
Red Wing goaltender Adam Defore did everything he could to keep the puck out of the net, making 37 saves, at least a half-dozen of which would fall into the “spectacular” column.
“Adam was phenomenal,” Rajanen said. “The past few games, he’s played like this. He’s in a zone. And when a goalie gets in a zone like this, you ride him. The kids get energy off of him. Because he’s playing so well, it gives them opportunities to take chances.”
The Wingers got a few more chances in the third, but the Storm was able to salt the game away.
Red Wing has been outscored 7-2 over its last three games, but the progress of a young team has been evident to the coach.
“The big stepping stone, like I told the kids, is we’ve played 11 solid periods here. We’ve just kept on building and building with the work ethic. And the harder we work, the higher speed we play at,” Rajanen said. “Things are easier for the kids because the holes in the net are bigger, the opportunities happen at a faster pace and it’s easier for them to see. We’re pleased with what’s going on right now.”
And that’s a big departure from earlier in the season. Asked if hustle and energy was a December problem, Rajaned left little doubt.
“Yes. No question,” Rajanen said. “Earlier in the year, we were doing a lot of standing around and not moving our feet. And now we’re moving our feet and moving feet and making decisions while we’re moving. We’re seeing some good things.”
The Wingers (3-12 overall, 2-3 Missota) will continue league play next week. Red Wing will host New Prague Tuesday, then visit Chaska Friday. And if the Wingers continue to chop at the ice, good things could be on the horizon.
“We’ve got a long ways to go, there’s no question there,” Rajanen said. “But if we keep on playing like we are, we’re going to turn some heads later in the year.”