Red Wing could not ask for a better start against Rochester Lourdes.
The Wingers were plenty motivated after shocking the Eagles in the Section 1A semifinals last year and put up two quick special teams goals.
But Lourdes tied things up before the end of the first period. And the Eagles were able to keep the pressure on with a 6-3 win against Red Wing Saturday at Prairie Island Arena.
"We let them catch fire," said Wingers co-head coach Anthony Boser. "We were up on them by two and took a couple bad penalties that gave them momentum. They were able to capitalize on a couple of our bad first-period penalties. We weren't able to get the reins back for the rest of the game.
"Coming from behind against a team like Lourdes is a difficult task no matter what. We battled hard but had a couple breakdowns cost us."
Cam Blue looked unstoppable over the first six minutes of Saturday's non-conference game. At 2:52, Blue put a backhand past Lourdes goaltender Luke Alexander for a short-handed goal. Then at 5:50, Blue put a snap shot up from the left circle to score a power-play goal. Logan Sammon and Jack Maroushek each got assists on the play.
"Our guys were ready to play and knew the task ahead of them," Boser said of the Wingers' fast start. "They came out with an effort to try to match or best Lourdes in the first five."
The Eagles responded 32 seconds later as Luke Newman scored an unassisted goal. Then in a period that featured a combined eight penalties for 24 minutes, Lourdes tied it up on a Dan Maurice power-play goal, with assists to Brady Kraling and Cort Buck.
After the first intermission, the Eagles continued to roll, with goals from Buck and Ryan Fitzpatrick in an 86-second stretch to make it a 4-2 Lourdes lead.
Red Wing appeared to get a boost with a Michael Stoffel goal at 14:12, thanks to assists from Josh Rikli and Sammon. Before the goal, Red Wing had a prime chance to score with a 5 on 3 opportunity midway through the second period. But, the Wingers couldn't capitalize, going 1-for-8 on the power-play Saturday.
"I don't think we had a lot of puck luck today," Boser said. "Even though they took eight penalties, we were in the box right there with them most of the time. There were a lot of 4 on 4s, a lot of odd-man situations. It was kind of a mixed-up game and we had trouble finding out footing and finding our pace after the first (period)."
Jared Anderson sealed the Lourdes victory with a pair of third-period goals.
At 1-3 this season, it's been an up-and-down start to the winter. But, Boser said, the character of this year's team is starting to emerge.
"We're learning a little bit more about what these guys are as a group," Boser said. "The first couple games, we were trying to find our rhythm. And then we played three great periods against Northfield. We played probably two good periods against Lourdes and it was the one we didn't play well that got us."
Red Wing has three games this week: at New Prague Tuesday, at Rochester Mayo Thursday and at home versus Fergus Falls Saturday.