Tigers score final five goals to beat Menomonie 7-2
New Richmond and Menomonie will play only once during the boys hockey regular season. As two of the main contenders for the top spots in the WIAA sectional seeding, the Dec. 21 meeting at Menomonie should have a huge impact on the seeding process.
The Tigers made sure they should be in a favorable position for seeding by scoring the final five goals of the game to beat the Indians 7-2.
The results of this game have drawn attention all over the state. The Tigers are now solidly placed in the top 10 in state hockey rankings, as high as fourth in the Toyota Top Ten in the Wisconsin Hockey News.
If there is one aspect that makes the Tigers stand out this season, it is their team speed. The Tigers can skate with any team around. In this game the two teams played 17-minute periods, which the Big Rivers Conference has adopted this year. The Tigers showed their speed and conditioning by holding up better than Menomonie in the longer periods. In the pivotal second period the Tigers scored twice in those extra two minutes, including a short-handed goal with two seconds left in the period by Dan Bergman.
"We're pretty quick," said Tiger coach Adam Swanda. "They had some bigger guys than us, but we pounded them. I think we tired them out."
The Tigers haven't been real fast starters this season and that resulted in Menomonie leading 1-0 after the first period. The durability of the Tigers showed as the game went on. The game was tied 12 minutes into the second period. From there the Tigers dominated. They got two goals in the final minutes of the second period, then added three unanswered goals in the third period.
Josh Calleja got the Tigers' first goal 47 seconds into the second period. Luke Jensen gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead before Menomonie came back to tie the score. That led into the two goals at the end of the second period. Kyle Dove scored off a faceoff to put the Tigers ahead 3-2. Bergman's short-handed goal at the end of the period was a huge momentum lift for the Tigers.
Tim Kretovics, Calleja and Bergman scored in the third period.
Matt Page made 24 saves in the nets for the Tigers.
By the team's performance and effort in practices, Swanda said the team is showing that it wants to live up to its goals.
"The team is telling me they understand what we are working on. We really want the number one seed (in the sectional) and to go to (the state tournament)," Swanda said.
The team's performance in this game also shows that the team can handle pressure.
"This was our biggest game to prepare for," Swanda said. "There was a lot on the line, they'd just tied Hudson. We only get one chance against them so this was a big game, huge."
The next game up for the Tigers is a non-conference game at Hayward at 1 p.m. on Saturday. That ends a string of six straight road games. The Tigers will be back on their home ice next Tuesday, playing the Baldwin-Woodville/St. Croix Central co-op team for the first time.
New Richmond 7, Menomonie 2
First Period: 1. Meno, Dan Thies (Ben Ramaeker, Dan Swanson) 3:22.
Second Period: 2. NR, Josh Calleja (Tim Kretovics) :47. 3. NR, Luke Jensen (Tyler Hanson, Kyle Dove) pp 9:27. 4. Meno, Thies (Ramaeker, Swanson) 12:01. 5. NR, Dove (un) 15:52. 6. NR, Dan Bergman (Calleja, Tom Wells) sh 16:58.
Third Period: 7. NR, Kretovics (Calleja, Bergman) pp 4:17. 8. NR, Calleja (Andy Smith, Bergman) 6:09. 9. NR, Bergman (Tom Wells, Calleja) 7:42.
Saves: New Richmond (Matt Page) 24; Menomonie (Mike Schmidt) 53.