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Red Wing's Fritz Belisle spots the puck during overtime against Winona Thursday evening. Belisle scored moments later to give the Wingers a 2-1 victory over the Winhawks in the second Battle for the Barge Rope. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

Boys Hockey: Red Wing wins Battle for the Barge Rope

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Boys Hockey: Red Wing wins Battle for the Barge Rope
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The Barge Rope has been around for all of 364 days. But it has now changed hands twice.

Red Wing and Winona decided to introduce a trophy to a rivalry that goes back as many years as the miles of river separating the two cities. Last year, the Winhawks claimed the Barge Rope with an overtime victory, a feat the Wingers duplicated Thursday when Fritz Belisle buried a puck past Wyatt Hamernik 3 minutes, 11 seconds into the extra frame.


So the Battle for the Barge Rope ended with one team looking to, well, make the twine a little more appealing to look at.

“It’s in the (locker room),” said Red Wing junior Dylan Goggin of the trophy. “Some of the guys are putting some purple tape on it.”

Goggin, who scored the Wingers’ first goal of the game at 14:20 of the second period, might put a little extra tape on the Barge Rope. After all, beating the Winhawks has been something the Wingers have looked forward to for years.

“We’ve been playing these guys all the way up through association hockey, youth hockey, and we’ve finally been able to take it to them,” Goggin said. “It’s nice to get that extra trophy and show them after that loss last year in overtime, it’s good to kind of give them a taste of what we felt last year. I was really proud of the guys that we worked through the adversity.”

Winona scored less than three minutes into the game, but Red Wing had chances to tie. Twice, shots hit a pipe in the first period, and twice, Hamernik made stellar pad saves. The Winona defense also blocked several good looks at the net as the Wingers were visibly frustrated with their lack of payoff on scoring chances.

But the second period saw a change as Red Wing came out looking to take the body. And when the Wingers started connecting, the Winhawks started to take the long way around the neutral zone.

“That was our game plan coming in,” said Red Wing head coach Bob Rajanen. “That has been one of the things that has been hurting us in the first five games is we really haven’t been playing the body as well as we should be as Red Wing hockey. But tonight was a different story. And that was big.”

As the last five minutes of the second period wound down, both teams started to look for the big blow that would change the momentum.  But the game-changer was not a check. Instead, Winona took a hooking penalty at 14:09. Eleven seconds later, Goggin tied the game.

The third period started the way the second ended, with both squads putting each other in the crosshairs. But the Wingers started to take over the play once again, managing a 10 to 3 shots advantage after an 11 to 5 margin in the second.

But it would end up being Red Wing who committed a crucial penalty in the third as a tripping minor put the Wingers a man down with just 58 seconds remaining in regulation.

“We had been facing a little adversity with penalties this game,” Goggin said. “When we saw we were down one man, we knew we had to outwork them. When we were on the penalty kill, we knew if we outworked them, and just fought off the last bit of the third period, we’d be able to take that momentum into overtime.”

Red Wing gave up a couple of good looks in the third, but the penalty kill did its job early in overtime. And once the Wingers were able to regroup for a couple of shifts, the attack was back on with Goggin leading the charge.

Goggin picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, and dumped the puck into the zone, losing the handle in a scrum along the boards. Belisle, a sophomore, regained control for Red Wing and beat Hamernik short side for the win.

That set off the kind of celebration only reserved for overtime game winners against bitter rivals.

“That’s an adrenaline rush, an overtime goal,” Belisle said. “You’ve got to have a little fun.”

Red Wing (1-5-0) will face Rochester Mayo (3-1-0) Saturday at Graham Arena, then host Holy Angels (1-2-2) Thursday, Dec. 19.

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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