Two competitive periods not enough for New Richmond boys hockey team
Take away the first few minutes and the New Richmond boys hockey team was extremely competitive for two periods with a big and experienced St. Paul Academy on Saturday night.
In the third period the Tigers’ inexperience showed. It showed in undisciplined penalties and giving up odd-man rushes. SPA led 2-1 after two periods, before tacking on three goals in the final period to beat the Tigers 5-1 in New Richmond’s 2013-14 opener.
The Tigers are putting an extremely young team on the ice this season. SPA took advantage right away, scoring 40 seconds into the game. It took the Tigers a couple shifts to settle in. During the opening minutes, the Tigers seemed intent on hitting every SPA they could reach. It wasn’t what the coaches were looking for.
“My goal isn’t to play linebacker hockey,” said Tiger coach Adam Swanda. “We want to skate with teams.”
Once the Tigers started concentrating on skating, they were competitive with the SPA team that won 18 games last year. The score remained 1-0 until late in the second period. A puck squirted free to Tiger junior Kole Hallmark 10 feet in front of the SPA net. Hallmark had time to wind up and he drilled the puck past the SPA goalie at the 13:06 mark.
Just before the end of the second period, the Tigers gave up a goal on an odd-man rush when the Tigers missed a check at their offensive blue line.
SPA added a power play goal 30 seconds into the third period. Later in the period the Tigers took 21 minutes of penalties.
“We were short-handed 13 minutes of the third period,” Swanda said.
Swanda said most of his younger players handled the pace of the game well, but the coaches are clearly looking for better contributions from their veterans.
“Our key players didn’t attack the net the way we wanted them to,” he said. “I don’t think it was our young guys that lost the game. We gave a win away. That has to come from our leaders.”
With the youth of the team, this was the first chance for the coaches to assess players in game situations. The coaches are spending as much time as possible teaching to get the team ready for the gritty schedule it faces.
The schedule continues with two teams that reached the WIAA state semifinals last season. On Saturday, the Tigers host defending sectional champion Superior at 2 p.m. Eau Claire Memorial beat Superior in last year’s state semifinals before defeating Verona 6-1 in the 2013 state championship game. The Tigers will play at Eau Claire Memorial at 7 p.m. next Tuesday.