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Boys Hockey: Goals prove elusive for Wingers in loss

Red Wing's Fritz Belisle controls the puck in the Northfield zone during Thursday's Missota Conference game at Prairie Island Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Red Wing goaltender Adam Defore tries to scoop up a loose puck during the third period of Thursday's game against Northfield at Prairie Island Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

Sometimes, it’s just as simple as scoring a goal to solve a team’s woes.

Facing Northfield at home Thursday, Red Wing did everything it needed to do to knock off the visiting Raiders. The Wingers were a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill against a team that was over 30 percent on the power play, and Red Wing held the Raiders without a goal in the third period.

The only thing missing from the Wingers’ efforts was putting the puck in the back of the net as Northfield came away with a 3-0 Missota Conference victory.

“We knew going into this year we were going to struggle scoring goals. We had to do everything we could: get into the dirty areas, moving the puck, storming the net, trying to create opportunities,” said Red Wing head coach Bob Rajanen. “We created a couple tonight, but we couldn’t cash in.”

It was a rough start for Red Wing as the Raiders jumped to a 1-0 lead at the 6-minute, 48-second mark. Off a deflection, Erik Bartho got the puck and put it past Wingers’ goaltender Adam Defore for the goal. Nate Marek was credited with an assist.

Problems persisted for Red Wing when Sam Hanson got a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind late in the period. Then early in the second after the major penalty expired, Fritz Belisle was charged with a hooking call. Despite being a man down for a long stretch, Red Wing managed to keep Northfield off the board.

“We knew coming in that we couldn’t take many penalties because they are 31 percent on the power-play. They score about half their goals on the power play,” Rajanen said. “We did a very, very good job of killing penalties tonight.”

Eventually, the Raiders found their scoring touch again at 5:44 of the second as Corbin Gett snapped the puck in to put Northfield in 2-0. Eann Johnson and Tanner Ruppe each tallied assists on the play. At 14:55, the Raiders tacked on one more goal as Garrett Samuelson popped the puck in on a rebound with assists from Max Olson and Ryan Torbenson.

At 10:39 of the second and 9:57 of the third period, the Wingers found themselves on the power play with a chance to grab some momentum. But, Northfield held firm and kept the Wingers out of the net. Goalie Matt Foss had 24 saves for the shutout victory. Defore stopped 32 shots in the loss.

“We talked in between periods about not playing one-on-one hockey. Just trying to get the puck deep and forecheck hard and we created some opportunities,” Rajanen said, “but unfortunately, we weren’t able to connect on them.”

With four games remaining in the regular season, including Monday’s conference road game with Chanhassen, the goal is simple for the Wingers’ postseason push: find a way to score goals.

“The biggest thing is to find a way to put the puck in the net. Any time you don’t score, you don’t deserve to win,” Rajanen said. “We got to find some scoring along the way here in the next four games. Hopefully that can give us some momentum going into the playoff run.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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