Tigers get defensive to beat Amery in playoffs
A challenge to improve defensively was taken to heart by the New Richmond boys hockey team in their WIAA playoff opener last Thursday.
It still took a strong finish for the Tigers to put away Amery, but they did, winning 5-3.
That win moved the Tigers into this Tuesday's sectional semifinal game at Superior. The winner of Tuesday's game will advance to the sectional title game, which will be played at 7 p.m. Friday at the Dunn County Ice Arena in Menomonie. The opponent in Friday's game will be the winner of Tuesday's game between Somerset and Hudson.
New Richmond rallied from a 3-2 deficit, scoring the last three goals of the game to defeat Amery 5-3 on Thursday at the New Richmond Sports Center. The Tigers are the fourth seed in the sectional bracket and Amery was the fifth seed.
Amery held 2-1 and 3-2 leads in the game, but the Tigers eventually shut down nearly all of Amery's offensive options. They did it with a strong backcheck and defensemen who were willing to sacrifice their bodies, blocking a number of Amery shots.
With the persistent team effort, the Tigers were able to limit Amery to 16 shots on goal. Amery never had more than six shots in one period.
The line of Michael Bodsberg, Tyler Lagerstrom and Nick Lubow carried the offensive load in this game, scoring four of the Tigers' goals.
Bodsberg produced the Tigers' first two goals. He got the opening goal of the game, scoring 1:39 into the action off a feed from Tanner Wisemiller. Bodsberg scored again with 43 seconds left in the first period, with his power play goal tying the score at 2-2.
Amery took a 3-2 lead early in the second period. It was the Warriors' last decent scoring chance until the final minutes of the game. The Tigers got the tying goal with 6:12 left in the second period. Lubow won an extended battle for the puck, then fired a pass to Lagerstrom for the goal.
"Nick Lubow's assist was just beautiful," said Tiger coach Adam Swanda.
The Tigers dominated the action in the third period. The Tigers outshot the Warriors 15-6 in the period and Amery didn't get its first shot on goal until nine minutes had already been played.
The Tigers got the go-ahead goal on a pretty effort from Bodsberg and Lagerstrom. Bodsberg hit Lagerstrom in stride as he cut through the neutral zone. Lagerstrom crossed the blue line and unleashed a slapshot that hit the goal just under the crossbar.
The Tigers stayed on the attack, drawing three penalties early in the third period from Amery players who struggled to match the Tigers' pace. Another fine piece of passing produced the Tigers' final goal on one of those power plays.
Hunter Cox made the pass, finding Jeremy Leavens alone on the back door, and Leavens was able to stuff the puck inside the post for the Tigers' fifth goal with 8:09 remaining.
Swanda said he was concerned when the Tigers gave up two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. He was gratified to see the Tigers dedicate themselves to improving the defensive effort in the rest of the game.