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Boys Hockey: Wingers shut out in home finale

Red Wing senior defenseman Tyler Rea (20) puts an open-ice hit on Chaska's Danny Urbanciz during the first period of Thursday's home finale at Prairie Island Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Red Wing senior forward Nick Sammon reaches for the puck in the neutral zone during Thursday's Missota Conference finale against Chaska at Prairie Island Arena. The visiting Hawks came away with a 5-0 victory. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

Ending the regular season on an 11-game losing streak after a 5-0 loss to Chaska on Thursday, Red Wing is still looking for some kind of lift on offense.

The Wingers came out of the gate strong before two Hawks goals in 33 seconds late in the first period swiped the momentum away. By the end of the game, Red Wing got 27 shots on goal, just five shots less than the Hawks, but Chaska was the only team to have any reward for its efforts.

Points have been elusive all year for the Wingers, who averaged just 1.4 goals per game during the season and were shut out seven times. And that lack of production has made wins even harder to find as the team goes into section play with a 3-22-0 record, with a 2-12-0 mark in the final Missota Conference standings.

Now as the team awaits their playoff fate, they know anything can happen, like last year’s 3-2 double-overtime winner in the first round against Austin. But, nothing will get done until Red Wing can put the puck in the net.

“We got to have some of our big players step up and score some goals for us. That has been difficult all year,” said Wingers head coach Bob Rajanen. “We’ve been a little snake-bit. Some of the opportunities we haven’t cashed in, and then again, there are times where we’re not creating enough (chances).”

As both teams fought for an edge early on, it would be Derek Annett who put the Hawks on top at the 15-minute, 22-second mark of the first period with an unassisted goal. Just 33 seconds later, teammate Kim Raikkonen fought through traffic in front of the net and put the puck past Red Wing goaltender Adam Defore to make it 2-0. Shane Doan got an assist on Raikkonen’s goal.

“It has been kind of the story all year: we give up one and all of a sudden, we give up two,” Rajanen said. “We had some breakdowns and unfortunately, it happened at an inopportune time with 1:38 left in the first period. Then they score another one about 30-some seconds later. It’s tough to rebound from it.”

Just 38 seconds into the second period, a pass from Zac Rodeheffer found Doan to make it 3-0 Hawks advantage. Andrew Henke followed that up at the 13:31 mark with an unassisted goal.

Raikkonen scored his second goal of the game off passes from Annett and Doan to put Chaska up 5-0 at 12:48 of the third period.

Chaska goalie Blake Jackson was credited with the shutout with 27 saves. Defore had 27 stops in the loss.

With a likely road game in the Section 1A playoffs, Rajanen told his team afterwards to flush Thursday’s loss and get ready for section play. And in that same vein, he hopes the Wingers can finally find the scoring punch they’ve been lacking all season.

“Our record speaks for itself,” Rajanen said. “If we go on the road, we have to make sure we’re ready to play in any venue that we’re in.”

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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