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Boys Hockey: Wingers dim Stars for first time since 2001

Red Wing's Fritz Belisle, in white, slips the puck beneath Holy Angels goalie Jack Robbel Thursday at Prairie Island Arena. Fritz's goal came in overtime, and was the deciding factor in Red Wing's 3-2 win, its first over the Stars since 2001. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
The Red Wing boys hockey team celebrates in front of the student section at Prairie Island Arena Thursday after the Wingers beat Holy Angels for the first time since 2001. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

A week ago, Fritz Belisle sparked a frenzy with an overtime, game-winning goal against Winona. The student section at Prairie Island Arena erupted after Belisle claimed the Barge Rope trophy for the Wingers for the first time.

Thursday, Belisle again caused a commotion, though this time it rumbled through the bleachers and into the hallway outside the Red Wing locker room.

“How long has it been?” asked several people.

Coaches, trainers, managers, players and media had no concrete answer. Ten years? Eleven? Since the sport was played outside?

Whatever the length of time, Belisle updated the history books when he once again delivered the extra-time theatrics against Holy Angels Thursday in a 3-2 victory for the Wingers.

The way the game started, everyone in attendance could be forgiven for thinking, “Here we go again.”

Despite being called for a bench minor three seconds into the game – a penalty for too many men dressed – the Stars took early control.

An increasing amount of puck possession turned into Holy Angels’ first goal at 3 minutes, 48 seconds of the first period when Shon Jordan beat Red Wing net minder Adam Defore. Andrew Willner scored 35 seconds later for the Stars, and the rout, seemingly, was on.

But the Wingers never panicked.

Coming out in the second period, Red Wing started to force the play by taking the body, something head coach Bob Rajanen said is the key to the Wingers’ game.

“That’s one of the biggest things we need to do, we need to exert our will out there. We need to play physical,” Rajanen said. “In order to be effective in any of the zones, whether it’s defensive, offensive or neutral zone, whatever, when we’re physical, that’s when the kids seem to be on their game.”

Each time the Stars would pick themselves up off the ice, a quick glance to a referee usually followed. But only three minors were called on Red Wing, and two, a hook and a hold, were not forceful. Holy Angels was given four minors, and one of them proved costly.

At 14:42 of the second period, Tristan Rehder found a way to get the puck past Jack Robbel and into the net. Rehder said he never even picked a spot, he was just trying to get a shot on goal. Rehder’s quick thinking resulted in a power-play goal that cut the Stars’ lead to 2-1.

Rehder’s next goal tied the game at 10:55 of the third, and it was one that never left his field of vision.

“Dylan (Goggin) hit me with a good pass. It was a 2-on-2, and their (defense) was pretty close to me and I decided to take a rip,” Rehder said. “I actually looked that time, and it went in. It all paid off.”

With the scored knotted 2-2, both teams went to their respective benches for a brief, three-minute intermission. When play resumed, each side had an early chance to end the game. But when Tyler Rea chipped the puck through the neutral zone, and Belisle raced to get his stick on it, all the hopes of the last dozen years were carried into the Stars’ defensive zone.

And when Belisle slipped the puck between Robbel’s pads, there was just one thing left to do: greet the student section once again.

“I took off, T-Rea gave me a sweet pass and, you know, I was going to go fake-shot backhand, but the defenseman got his stick on me so I just shoved it in five-hole. And we scored.”

The last time Red Wing got to celebrate a win over Holy Angels was Jan. 30, 2001. That game also went to overtime, and the game-winning goal was from Reid Cashman, who went on to play and coach at Division I Quinnipiac University.

A lot of Wingers have come and gone through the boys hockey program since then. But it’s the current group that will get to do down as the latest. And like Cashman, Rehder and his teammates have some bragging rights.

“I have two older brothers, and I’ve been watching Holy Angels face Red Wing for a while now, it’s getting pretty frustrating,” Rehder said. “It’s nice to know we can go out there and finally get a ‘W’ against these guys.”

Red Wing (2-6 overall, 1-1 Missota) will get to enjoy the upset for a week before heading to South St. Paul for a holiday tournament.

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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