Boys Hockey: Four 3rd-period goals doom WingersRed Wing drops to 0-6 after losing 4-0 to Tartan in home debut Tuesday
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
The road was unkind to the Red Wing boys hockey team as they began the season 0-5 away from Red Wing.
Playing in their home opener Tuesday against unbeaten Tartan, the Wingers looked rejuvenated through the first two periods, keeping the score tied at 0-0.
But a quick goal 19 seconds into the third period by the Titans’ Brady O’Sullivan kick-started a four-goal output in the final 17 minutes for Tartan, who left Prairie Island Arena with a 4-0 victory.
In five of their six games this season, the Wingers have hung close with teams, outscoring its opponents 8-7 through two periods. After the first 34 minutes, Red Wing has struggled, getting outscored 14-4 after the second period.
“I wouldn’t say they’re (third-period) woes,” said Wingers head coach Mike Belisle. “Our third periods, either we’ve taken a bit of a breather or else we didn’t take care of the puck in certain situations. Good teams will take advantage of that.
“That first goal so quickly in the third certainly does take the wind out of our sail. We just have to grind it out.”
Charging hard at the net, O’Sullivan broke up the scoreless drought with his first goal, with Zach Ledman and Jake Jackson notching assists.
O’Sullivan popped in two more goals, including an empty-netter with 42 seconds remaining for a hat trick.
“Small breakdowns, here and there that cause a goal, are things we can learn from,” Belisle said. “When we get into these conference and section games, that’s when we want that learning to reap its benefits.”
Through the first two periods, the Wingers’ blue line players set the tone for the team, hitting the Titans players hard in hopes of countering Tartan’s speed advantage.
“We definitely outhit them,” Belisle said. “If you see who ramped up their game, our defensemen really did. Our third line, our ‘Orange’ line ramped up their game against a big, fast, skilled team.”
And in net, Blaney was all over the crease, stopping 38 shots as the Titans outshot Red Wing 42-29.
“When you look at our conference and section, there are not a lot of teams that we match up well with speed-wise, so we know we have to rely on Preston to bail us out,” Belisle said. “It is what it is and we know that.”
In the second period, the Wingers had two power-play opportunities after O’Sullivan and Conner Simons were both called for tripping early in the period for Tartan. Despite keeping the puck in the Titans’ zone with the extra-man advantage, Red Wing was unable to get on the scoreboard. In 25 power plays this season, the Wingers have just two goals.
Defensively, Red Wing’s penalty kill was sharp, holding Tartan without a special teams goal.
“Our special teams were excellent,” Belisle said. “(Power-play goals) will come and we’ll continue to build to the section.”
Leading 1-0, O’Sullivan launched a snapshot over Blaney’s glove to give Tartan a 2-0 advantage at 7:13 in the third. More than four minutes later, Michael Friberg put the Titans up 3-0, popping in the puck through traffic, helping cement the victory. Tartan outshot the Wingers 23-12 in the final period.
Trying to stop its six-game skid, Red Wing heads to Winona on Thursday for a non-conference game.
“No one likes to be 0-6,” Belisle said, “but when you really start to remove that and see what we really are, I like where we’re going.”