Shuffle pays off for WingersA little line shuffling paid off in a big way for the Red Wing boys hockey team Saturday in a 5-3 victory over Fergus Falls at Prairie Island Arena in Red Wing.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
A little line shuffling paid off in a big way for the Red Wing boys hockey team Saturday in a 5-3 victory over Fergus Falls at Prairie Island Arena in Red Wing.
Wingers head coach Mike Belisle swapped centers Ryan Rehder and Mike Stegora and the move paid dividends. The line of Rehder, Alex Rezansoff and Taylor Hanson scored two goals while the line of Stegora, Marcus Noesen and Anthony Kimmes had another. The third line also contributed a goal from Ross Elford.
Defenseman Jack Strusz netted the game-winner with 9 minutes, 51 seconds to play in the third period. The goal gave Red Wing a 4-3 lead and proved invaluable down the stretch.
With 4:35 left in the game the Otters went on a 5-on-3 power play after Noesen got whistled for a contact to the head penalty and Kimmes got called for roughing at the same time. The Wingers killed the penalty with a gritty effort, blocking shots and cutting off shooting lanes to preserve the victory.
“That’s just huge,” Belisle said. “Those are the defining moments we talk about with our group.”
The win snapped a two-game skid for Red Wing where it got outscored 13-1.
“It’s been kind of frustrating,” Rezansoff said. “It’s a real nice feeling to get a ‘W.’”
The Wingers came alive on offense and tallied 43 shots on goal. Red Wing (2-2) had several scoring chances throughout the game but settled for five goals. Stegora scored an empty-net goal with 45 seconds left to secure the victory.
Rehder gave the Wingers a 1-0 lead at 8:08 in the first period on an assist from Hanson as it became apparent that the line had some chemistry. Rehder, Rezansoff and Hanson have played together since mites and it didn’t take long for the trio to rekindle its scoring touch.
“It’s no big surprise,” Belisle said. “They’re all extremely hard working. There’s some chemistry there.”
Fergus Falls came back to tie the game with eight seconds left in the first period with a power-play goal from Sam Rausch.
The Otters took the lead 1:37 into the second period when Aidan Colling scored from the left circle.
Rezansoff tied it back up with 27 seconds left in the second period to give Red Wing some momentum heading into the third period. Tyler Grove, fresh out of the penalty box, collected a loose puck near the Wingers’ blue line and found Hanson who connected with Rezansoff for the game-tying goal.
Elford scored the go-ahead goal 2:14 into the third period 2:14 and gave Red Wing an added boost.
“That fired everyone up,” Belisle said.
The Otters responded and tied it up on a soft goal from Cody Ward that trickled through Wingers’ goalie Preston Blaney’s pads with 12:54 left.
Despite its increased goal-scoring, Red Wing failed to take advantage of back-to-back power plays in the third period that could have put the game away sooner. Up 4-3 with 8:52 left, Fergus Falls took a roughing penalty and as soon it expired the Otters took a cross-checking penalty to keep the Wingers on the power play. Red Wing moved the puck well and had some chances but failed to convert and made the final minutes nerve-wracking.
Fergus Falls pulled its goaltender with 1:23 left to play but Stegora ended the threat with his empty-netter.
Red Wing faces Missota Conference foe Northfield Thursday in Red Wing at 7 p.m. at Prairie Island Arena.