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Boys Hockey: Wingers get big section win over New Prague

After what head coach Mike Belisle called a "spirited week of practice" the Red Wing boys hockey team responded Friday with a 2-1 victory over conference and section rival New Prague in New Prague.

Belisle didn't go into specifics about what was said at the practices, but whatever it was seemed to clear the air and allow the Wingers to focus on winning.

"We had a family 'Come to Jesus' type meeting at practice," Belisle said. "The captains took charge and said what we're doing isn't working and we'd like to change it."

A pair of senior captains led Red Wing as Mike Stegora and Marcus Noesen scored for the Wingers (6-5, 3-1 Missota) who moved above .500 for the first time since the opening game of the season.

For Stegora it was his eighth goal in the last four games and Noesen just his second goal of the season and first since Dec. 20 against Tartan.

"A couple of the seniors stepped up like you want," Belisle said. "Marcus was just vintage, power forward-style. ... It was just right up his alley as far as types of goals he needs to score."

Stegora gave the Wingers a 1-0 lead 3 minutes, 30 seconds into the second period and Noesen got his goal at 13:13 of the second to make it 2-0. The pair assisted each other on their goals.

For much of the season the junior line of Taylor Hanson, Alex Rezansoff and Ryan Rehder has accounted for the majority of the offense, but in a matchup that will likely aid Red Wing in section seeding the senior captains stepped up.

Preston Blaney also stepped up in goal for the Wingers. Blaney, who missed the past two games due to a death in the family, returned to deliver his best performance of the season. Blaney made 34 saves as the Trojans (6-6-1, 3-2 Missota) outshot Red Wing 35-27.

"The coaching staff and I were talking and this was kind of a coming out party for Preston," Belisle said. "One of the players we need to grow, not only physically, but mentally is Preston."

Blaney played an integral role at the start of the third period as the Wingers killed off a 5-on-3 power play to prevent New Prague from gaining any momentum.

The Trojans scored later in the period at 11:22 on a goal from Jack Pexa, but by then it'd become too late for a comeback. New Prague had taken two penalties prior to the goal and had another with 38 seconds left.

Red Wing only took three penalties in the game, which signaled a departure for its previous games where penalties have piled up and come not from the run of play.

The Wingers face Shakopee Tuesday in Red Wing, a team they beat 8-3 Dec. 28 in Shakopee.