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Tigers head into playoffs with big mo, beat Hudson 4-3

The New Richmond boys hockey team starts WIAA playoffs with momentum on its side.

The Tigers knocked off Hudson, then ranked third in the state, last Thursday by a 4-3 score in the final regular season game for the Tigers.

This Friday the Tigers start the WIAA sectionals with a home game against Amery at 7 p.m. The Tigers are the third seed in the regional and Amery is the sixth seed. The winner of Friday's game will play again next Tuesday, facing the winner of the Hudson-Spooner game.

In last Thursday's game between New Richmond and Hudson, neither team started their number one goalie. New Richmond went with Matt Knutson, the second goalie, who coach Adam Swanda wanted to see perform in a big game. Hudson went with freshman Willie Riedel, considered the Raiders' goaltender of the future.

Other than the starting goalies, there was nothing missing in this game, especially intensity. Both teams went after this game like it was already the playoffs. There was a ton of hitting, just as you'd expect from this always volatile rivalry. The game was played in front of the biggest crowd of the season thus far at the New Richmond Sports Center.

Hudson scored first, 6:56 into the game. That lead would not last a minute.

Danny Wells led a rush into the Hudson zone, leaving a drop pass from linemate Justin Elmer. Elmer unleashed a blistering shot from the top of the circle, scoring in the upper glove corner, just 39 seconds after Hudson had scored.

Wells and Elmer struck again minutes later. Wells won a faceoff to Elmer, who one-timed a shot past Riedel to give the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish.

The score remained 2-1 until the Tigers struck five minutes into the second period. The goal came from a scramble in front of the net, with the puck squirting out to the right corner of the crease. There was a race to the puck, which was won by New Richmond's Chris Ellevold, who poked the puck past a sprawling Riedel.

Hudson cut the lead to 3-2 late in the second period when Knutson made his only mistake of the game, trying to bat down a puck out of the air.

The Raiders took two penalties in the early stages of the third period, and the Tigers turned the second power play into a goal. Tyler Hanson scored the power play goal, off an assist from Elmer, who was flying around the rink with a high energy level all night.

The game got exceedingly physical as the third quarter rolled on. The Tigers killed off a 5-on-3 deficit for nearly two minutes, with Knutson making several nice stops.

The Tigers took a couple bad penalties in the last minutes, which allowed Hudson to score a power play goal with 27 seconds left on the clock.

Tiger coach Adam Swanda said he saw several good signs in this game. The best was probably the Tigers' ability to keep the play in Hudson's zone, especially in the first and third periods.

"We have a lot of good things going for us right now," Swanda said. "Hopefully that can snowball."

Fast start at RF

Last Tuesday the Tigers went to River Falls and roared past the Wildcats, 7-1.

The Tigers made sure this game was put away quickly, with four different players scoring during the first period.

Swanda said one of the key aspects of this game was the play of defenseman Kyle Ensign. The Tigers are looking for Ensign to carry more rushes up ice. In this game he scored twice after leading a rush.

Brady Powers and Danny Wells also scored twice in the game. Chris Ellevold scored a short-handed goal, with Swanda saying this was the best game that Ellevold had played this season.

New Richmond 4, Hudson 3

First Period: 1. Hudson, Sam Wakefield (Duane Fuhrman) 6:56. 2. NR, Justin Elmer (Danny Wells) 7:35. 3. NR, Elmer (Wells) 9:06.

Second Period: 4. NR, Chris Ellevold (Kyle Ensign, Aaron Pflueger) 4:59. 5. Hudson, Fuhrman (Kyle Turner) 14:31.

Third Period: 6. NR, Tyler Hanson (Elmer) pp 4:56. 7. Hudson, Zach Burke (Jacob Drewiske) pp 16:33.

Saves: New Richmond (Matt Knutson) 29; Hudson (Willie Riedel) 33.

New Richmond 7, River Falls 1

First Period: 1. NR, Brady Powers (un) pp 2:48. 2. NR, Kyle Ensign (Brandon Larson) 7:40. 3. NR, Chris Ellevold (Powers) sh 13:46. 4. RF, Jake Stauber (A.J. Solum, Brent Johnson) pp 14:13. 5. NR, Dan Wells (Jake Calleja) 15:03.

Second Period: 6. NR, Wells (Calleja, Justin Elmer) 14:47.

Third Period: 7. NR, Ensign (Powers) 4:36. 8. NR, Powers (Ensign) 7:22.

Saves: New Richmond (Matt Knutson) 15; River Falls (Andy Wiley) 36.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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