Boys hockey: Trojans start well, fall late to Cards
WORTHINGTON — Playing toe-to-toe with Redwood Valley through at least the first period, the Worthington Trojans were unable to make enough hay late in their boys hockey game and fell in a game of runs, 8-5.
The loss, on Thursday night at the Worthington Ice Arena, dropped the Trojans to 2-16 on their season following the club’s second-to-last tune-up prior to the onset of the section tournament.
“We had talked in the locker room before the game about how we wanted to come out with a quick start,” Worthington head coach Nate Grimmius said following the game. “I thought we did that in the first period.”
Netting two goals by junior forward Andrew Johnson and another by senior defenseman Zach Heidebrink in the opening 17 minutes, the Trojans held a slight 3-2 edge heading into the first intermission.
Worthington’s first goal came 90 seconds into the game when senior forward Kody Honius caught a wide-open Johnson in front of the crease for an early lead. Redwood Valley then answered less than four minutes later, at 5:15, on a goal scored by freshman forward Connor Nelson that was assisted by forwards Collin Fuhr and Alex Olson. The Cardinals added to it at the 6:45 mark with a score by junior Jacob Prouty.
The Trojans made their move, knocking in a pair of goals before the first intermission, but would not be able to finish effectively. Redwood Valley outscored the Trojans 6-2 through the final 34 minutes.
The Trojans had a goal scored by sophomore Evan Eggers 10:50 into the second period that was taken off the board. Much to the displeasure of the Trojans’ faithful, the puck was ruled to be in the net outside the goal’s pipes. The shot would have given Worthington life and just a one-score hole to dig out of. Sophomore defenseman Alex Olhausen made that dream a reality, however, scoring off of assists from Devon Bents and Tony Lopez just over a minute later.
“The second period was where we had our struggles,” Grimmius said. “We had a couple of big defensive zone turnovers that created some chances for them and they capitalized.”
Worthington found itself just one step behind again in the third frame. Redwood Valley outscored Worthington 2-1 in the period to put the game away. Junior forward Nick Newman closed the gap to 8-5 8:01 into the final period on a goal assisted by Honius, Heidebrink and Johnson.
Playing shorthanded due to various circumstances, the Trojans were without their starting goaltender, senior Alex Purdy. Playing in his place, sophomore Gage Langerud had several spectacular saves on the evening. The Trojans also have been without Alex Kremer for some time, who is done for the season due to a torn ACL.
“In the last game we beat these guys 5-3, but with the short bench we were getting tired and were also missing a couple of guys,” Grimmius said of his team’s predicament. “Gage is a second-year skater, and for him to step into varsity competition, that’s tough for anybody. He did well for being a second-year player.”
Worthington hosts the Sioux Falls Flyers next Thursday evening for their regular season closer. The Section 3A tournament begins for boys hockey on Tuesday, Feb. 18. With the season split the Trojans now hold with Redwood Valley, Worthington knows it will likely see the Cardinals again soon. Seedings have not been assigned yet.
“Any Sioux Falls team is usually pretty decent, so I think it will be a good game for us to play before we see (Redwood Valley) again,” Grimmius said of the regular season closer. “The following week we’ll have a play-in game. I know, from the way it was on the bench and the way it was in the locker room, these guys aren’t going to forget this team.”
Redwood Valley 2 3 3 — 8
Worthington 3 1 1 — 5