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Boys Hockey: Wingers' season ends in New Prague

After being beaten twice, handily, in two regular-season games against New Prague, the writing may have been on the wall for Red Wing in Friday’s Section 1A quarterfinals.

Though the Wingers saw their season come to an end in a 2-0 defeat, Red Wing whitewashed the past.

“The biggest thing is the first game we were down 6-0 in the first period and the compete level was gone,” said Red Wing head coach Bob Rajanen of the Wingers’ 10-1 loss to the Trojans on Jan. 14. “The next time [a 4-1 loss on Feb. 11], they scored late in the first, but I liked the compete level from there. Today, we competed for three periods. The work ethic was there and the kids thought they had a chance to win the game.”

It would have been easy to give in as New Prague scored the kind of goals that can deflate a team quickly. Trojan Jordan Lein banged the puck past Winger goalie Adam Defore 7 minutes, 4 seconds into the game. Then, at 16:19 of the first, Casey Busch caught a bounce to give New Prague a last-minute, two-goal lead.

“The first one was kind of a coverage goal,” Rajanen said. “The guy walked out in front of the net and hammered it home. We just didn’t cover well defensively. And the second one was from a bad angle. He threw it in front and it got (deflected) and it went in (off of a defenseman).”

Defore, a junior, made 34 saves in the loss while Red Wing (5-23) managed just 10 shots on goal, six of which came in the second period.

Scoring has been an issue all season for the Wingers, and, ultimately, the offense was unable to come through in the final game. But strides were made defensively throughout the season.

“When you look at our (defensive) corps coming in, we had one coming back that had varsity playing time,” Rajanen said. “It was pretty much on-the-job training for the rest of the kids. For next year, we have three (defensemen) returning, and we’re hoping for bigger and better things. The forwards are the same way.”

With a more experienced group for 2014-15, the question will be if Red Wing can pick up where they left off.

“In the beginning, the work ethic wasn’t there. They didn’t believe,” Rajanen said. “This group has had a difficult time winning all the way up. We preached that they had to believe, to increase the work level, the compete level, and the biggest difference, in this game, they took that to heart, that they believed and competed at the highest level we can.”

RE Sports

The Red Wing Republican Eagle covers local sports in Goodhue County and surrounding areas. 

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