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New Richmond boys hockey rebounds, quite literally

New Richmond's Michael Bodsberg (21) got flattened as he fought to put away a rebound for the Tigers' fourth goal in the 7-3 win over River Falls on Monday.

After the disheartening overtime loss at Somerset last Thursday, the New Richmond boys hockey team needed to rebound on Monday against River Falls.

The Tigers did, quite literally. The Tigers scored seven goals, with more than half of them coming off rebounds and hard work in front of the net, as they overwhelmed the Wildcats 7-3.

The win evens the Tigers' record to 8-8-2 for the season. The WIAA tournament seeding for this sectional will be completed on Sunday. The only chance for the Tigers to improve their status in the sectional bracket is to play well in their two games this week. The Tigers host Hudson, another team from the sectional, at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Tigers play again at the New Richmond Sports Center 24 hours later, against Eau Claire Memorial.

Because of their .500 record, the Tigers might not get one of the top four seeds in the sectional bracket. Tiger coach Adam Swanda said that shouldn't be a detriment to the team's playoff chances.

"If we can get healthy, I'm not afraid of any team in the playoffs," Swanda said.

The Tigers hope they can build on Monday's successful effort. With no school being held on Monday, Swanda held a class for the Tigers. He held an hour-long visualization class, devoted to illustrating the importance of going hard to the net.

The session produced results. Most of the Tigers' goals were off strong-willed work in front of the net where the Tigers outbattled River Falls players for control of the puck.

Swanda said the Tigers are just beginning to reach full health, giving the coaches the lineup they've been longing to put on the ice since December. Players like Nick Lubow and Jeremy Leavens are coming back to full health and are proving to be key contributors.

River Falls scored the opening goal of the first period, but the Tigers answered back with goals from Josh Manske and Lubow. Both would score again later in the game.

The Tigers went ahead 4-1 in the second period after Tanner Wisemiller and Michael Bodsberg both scored off rebounds. Manske would score on a shot from the point late in the period to raise the lead to 5-2.

Lubow and Tyler Lagerstrom scored for the Tigers in the third period.

The only negative for the Tigers were a couple major defensive breakdowns that led to River Falls goals. The Tigers got caught out of position after an offensive zone power play faceoff in the second period, giving up a goal off a 3-on-1 break. The third period River Falls goal came when a Wildcat defenseman was able to skate end-to-end without being touched.

Swanda said there were a number of players who stood out in this game. He said it started with the orange line of Hunter Charland, Ben Norman and Kole Hallmark, who played with a high level of energy whenever they took the ice. The combination of Leavens, Lubow and Wisemiller also seemed to click whenever they were on the ice together.

The ability to put away scoring chances was the difference between Monday's win and Thursday's overtime loss at Somerset. Swanda said he felt the Tigers had the edge in every statistical category except for goals.

"We didn't capitalize on our chances," he said. "We gave them no looks in the first and third periods."

The Tigers got second period goals from Jake Singerhouse and Kaleb Kier, taking a 2-1 lead into the third period. The Tigers limited Somerset to one shot in the first 12 minutes of the third period, but couldn't take advantage.

Swanda said it was an alarming number to produce just two goals off 43 shots on goal.

"It's finishing loose puck opportunities in front of the net. We've got to have the desire to finish," Swanda said.