Boys Hockey: Wingers whip Mayo
The first five minutes of Tuesday's game belonged to Rochester Mayo. The Spartans spent plenty of time in Red Wing's defensive zone and had little problem separating the Wingers from the puck with stick work and by taking the body at every available opportunity.
But Red Wing responded, even matching Mayo's physicality. And when the Spartans got a little too loose with the rules, the Wingers took advantage of the power plays on their way to 5-1 Big Nine Conference victory.
“I was even a little bit surprised. That's the truth,” said Red Wing co-head coach Anthony Boser about the Wingers answering hits with hits. “We scrimmaged them earlier in the season, and that was a similar, gritty, tough, hard-fought game. We knew they were going to hit and be aggressive, and we knew they really don't like losing to us. That was enough for us to be in that mindset right away to be tough and strong because we knew they were going to come with it.”
At 7:34 of the first period, Seth Cushing gave Red Wing a lead it would not relinquish with a power-play goal. It was a classic dirty goal, coming in a scramble in front of the net. Tyler DeFore and Cam Blue each earned assists.
Six minutes later, the Wingers were again a man up, and again Cushing would find the puck and push it in from close for a 2-0 lead. DeFore got his second assist, and Red Wing had completely taken the game away from the Spartans.
But Mayo was not going to lie down, and Thomas Krause's goal 33 seconds into the second period could have put some doubt in the Wingers' minds. But after giving up just six shots on goal in the first, Red Wing responded with the same effort in the second.
The all-around defensive game again turned the tide with Blue, at 8:40 on a perfect feed from DeFore, and Cushing, at 12:40 on assists from Blue and Jack Maroushek, made it 4-1.
“I like the way we've been playing, whether it's the the forechecking, the backchecking, that leads to our offense, that gets us going and into the game, into the flow,” Boser said. “I thought we matched lines with them very well tonight. All three of our lines were strong, and when we play like that, we're pretty tough.”
The Wingers knew the Spartans would need another big push to begin the third, but Red Wing would not wait to squash any thoughts of a comeback. Cushing and Blue assisted DeFore at 0:22 to put the game away.
“That was a great way to come into the third period,” Boser said. “We knew they were going to come out and put a push on like they did the first two periods, they were very, very strong to start the second. We were on our heels a little bit, so to make a play like that right away in the third period and get a quick one, and get back to what we do, was really, really helpful. A great goal.”
There was a physical price to pay for the Wingers as Mayo picked up the physical play. Off-setting roughings were called midway through the period, and a cross-check was called on the Spartans a little later. Perhaps answering, Red Wing was given a minor for elbowing at 13:45.
But the fireworks erupted after the final horn as the benches emptied and some players scrapped at center ice. Winger Nick Ramstad was given a five-minute major for unsportsmalike conduct while Spartan Jordan Dingle was given a five, and a 10-minute game misconduct, for roughing.
Red Wing (3-2, 1-1 Big Nine) has a three-game week coming up. The Wingers will host New Prague on Tuesday, Rochester Century on Thursday, and will head to Mankato East on Saturday.