WHS Hockey: WHS mounts comeback
WORTHINGTON -- As the final seconds ticked off the clock in the Worthington boys' hockey game Friday night, head coach Pat Christopherson shouted, "And that's a victory!" while slapping the boards with his palms.
The Trojans scored seven unanswered goals to defeat Fairmont 7-4, recording their first win of the season and only their second victory in the past two years.
"We just outplayed them in the second and third period and that's pretty much all I can say," junior forward Levi Leach said. "Just winning...we haven't won in so long so I don't even know what to say. We're all just super happy."
WHS found itself down 4-0 when Matt Bauman scored on an assist from Grant Becker and Brady Junkermeier with 8 minutes, 53 seconds left in the second period.
But the Trojans got on the board with 4:28 left in the period on a Sam Mills goal -- his first one ever -- which was assisted by Ethan Stofferan and Kody Honius.
Honius scored just 1:28 later, and Alex Kremer (assisted by Stofferan and Leach) scored with four seconds left in the period to enter the intermission down by just one goal, 4-3.
"With the exception of the first period we were exceptional tonight," Christopherson said. "We expected to be able to at least compete with them tonight, so when we got down 4-0 I was very surprised to be honest.
"I'm not saying we're better than Fairmont, but I thought we'd keep it closer than that. We finally woke up when Sam Mills scored. After that the guys kind of took over and me and [assistant coach] Chris [Huls] stayed out of the way."
WHS scored its final four goals during an eight minute stretch starting with 10:31 left in the third period.
Leach, Honius, Kremer and Stofferan all scored for the Trojans in the final period.
But both Christopherson and Leach credit the Trojans' scoring spurt to Mills' second period goal that sparked it all.
Christopherson said one of WHS' main problems this season is the mental aspect of the game. He said the Trojans almost need that first goal to gain confidence and if they get into a big defecit it is hard for them to overcome it from a mental standpoint.
So with Mills starting the team off and then WHS scoring three goals to close out the second period, that was enough to take some of the self-induced pressure off.
"We came out thinking one thing and it kind of backfired on us," Leach said. "After Samuel scored the first goal we all just got pumped up and that's when we all started scoring and playing our positions better. It all went well from when Sam scored. That's was a huge confidence-booster for us."
The Trojans finished with 40 shots on goal, in comparison to Fairmont's 26.
However, the first half of the game is still slightly haunting for WHS.
Christopherson and Huls have stressed how important it is to put up a strong performance early in the game -- especially for the Trojans who rely so heavily on the mental part of the game -- and that wasn't the case Friday.
Early penalties, including one 10 minute misconduct call on a defenseman for back talking to a referee, caused WHS to change its formations and lines, which in turn caused some confusion.
So although the team is pleased with the win, Christopherson hopes WHS can get back to playing well in all three periods, especially right off the bat, instead of performing well in just one here and there.
"We thought that we'd addressed that because in the past two games our first periods were exceptional, but you get some calls against you and you run into some adversity and have two goals that had some beneficial bounces and all of that just kind of deflates you for awhile," Christopherson said. "They know they need to focus during the first period, that's big for them. If we can do that the rest of the season we'll be happy."
As big as the smiles were leaving the hockey arena Friday night, the Trojans can't dwell too much on this win. They play again today at 2 against Waseca at home.
And although they are excited about the win and will be entering the game with some momentum, Christopherson is worried about how worn down the team will be playing just 17 hours after WHS' last game ended.
"I'm hoping we have legs to play with Waseca," Christopherson said. "I think if we do, then we'll be able to skate with them and it's a fairly good match-up. But we used up a lot of physical and emotional energy tonight, so whether we're able to turn it around and can skate with them we'll just have to wait and see."
FHS 2 2 0 -- 4
WHS 0 3 4 -- 7