Boys Hockey: Big third period gives Wingers win over FarmingtonA ho-hum first period didn’t slow the Red Wing boys hockey team in a 3-1 victory against Farmington Thursday at the Prairie Island Arena in Red Wing.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
A ho-hum first period didn’t slow the Red Wing boys hockey team in a 3-1 victory against Farmington Thursday at the Prairie Island Arena in Red Wing.
The Wingers (8-6-1, 5-2-1 Missota) were outshot 11-3 in the opening period but got superb play from their penalty kill from the outset.
“We take it as an opportunity to get momentum after we kill (penalties) off,” Red Wing senior Jack Strusz said. “It turns the game around. Special teams, that’s where all your momentum comes from.”
Farmington finished the night 0-7 on the power play and the penalty kill saved the Wingers in the first two periods, Red Wing head coach Mike Belisle said. The Wingers ability to block shots was also a big reason why they kept the Tigers from scoring.
“It’s something we strive for,” Strusz said. “We always say ’10 blocked shots is one less goal.’ Tonight, it paid off because were spending more time on the penalty kill than we needed to.”
Strusz scored two goals, both coming on special teams, to lead Red Wing. Junior Alex Rezansoff tallied a goal and an assist in the win. Junior Preston Blaney made 30 saves.
Zach Colaw netted Farmington’s lone goal.
The first two periods saw the puck in the Red Wing zone for extended periods of time but no goals were scored despite both teams being on the power play for a total of 13 minutes. Blaney made 23 saves in the first two periods.
Farmington scored first in the third period after a turnover by Red Wing at its own blue line. Andrew Peterson intercepted a careless pass and charged toward the net before feeding an open Colaw for the first goal of the game 2 minutes, 46 seconds into the final period.
The Wingers responded quickly, with junior Ryan Rehder making a nice hustle play and beat the Tigers to the puck behind the Farmington net before feeding a pass out front to Rezansoff. Rezansoff made one move and put it past the Tigers’ goalie to tie the game.
“I think we were still a little tired after the game against Holy Angels,” Strusz said. “After they scored, we were like ‘uh oh, we better get going.’ It woke us up.”
Strusz scored the game-winning goal on the power play at 7:20 of the third period, with the assist to Rezansoff. Strusz converted the power play by slipping a wrist shot just over the goalie’s glove and under the left crossbar.
“I saw an opening so I went for it and snuck it through,” he said.
The final goal of the game came on a bouncing empty net goal at the buzzer by Strusz with the Wingers on the penalty kill. It was a fitting end to a dominant third period for Red Wing. The Wingers outshot Farmington 18-7 in the third.
In addition to after effects from the big game against Holy Angels, Red Wing struggled to find offense without senior Mike Stegora, who served a one game suspension for a checking from behind penalty against Holy Angels Tuesday. The suspension is part of the new rules instituted Monday by the Minnesota State High School League. Stegora will sit out the next game as well per Belisle’s team rules.
“I think they’re great,” Belisle said of the new rules. “It was a long time coming. It’s serious and we want to be a part of the culture change.”
While Belisle said Stegora is an irreplaceable player, Strusz did a nice job of filling in at Stegora’s forward position and enjoyed success in his new role.
“It’s something I’ve always kind of wanted to do,” Strusz said of playing forward. “It’s nice to go up and get a change of scenery. It’s something new.”
In spite of the situation, the Wingers fought through a flat beginning to the game and pulled out a necessary victory.
“We’re very excited and happy about any win,” Belisle said. “But under the circumstances … it shows the confidence and growth of this family.”
Red Wing gets a short rest before playing Northfield Thursday in Northfield.