WHS BOYS' HOCKEY: WHS falls to Pierre 10-2WORTHINGTON — If the Trojans boys’ hockey team can take something positive away from its latest loss, it would be that there is one more regular season game left for it to try to get a boost heading toward the postseason.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — If the Trojans boys’ hockey team can take something positive away from its latest loss, it would be that there is one more regular season game left for it to try to get a boost heading toward the postseason.
Worthington lost to Pierre, S.D., by a score of 10-2 in a non-conference contest, which saw the victors post a 6-1 lead after one period, at the Worthington Arena Friday night.
“We’ve hit a wall, mentally and physically,” WHS head coach Pat Christopherson said after the game. “It’s a long season and we have some kids out, but that’s not going to make up eight goals for us.”
It didn’t take long for the visiting Capitals to open the scoring as Andrew Leif snuck the puck past Trojan netminder Rylan Scholtes’ stick off an assist from James Gilkerson 53 seconds into the game.
Pierre extended the early lead to 3-0 following a goal from Jace Jerome off a centering pass from Austin Wagner at 7:47 and a power-play score at 6:27 when Elliott Shoup-Owens cleaned up a rebound off a shot from Wagner.
However, the Trojans received a power play of their own shortly after the third Capitals goal with 5:58 remaining in the opening frame.
WHS senior captain Ethan Stofferan gathered a puck in the neutral zone and rifled a puck from the high slot as he crossed the blue line at opposing goaltender Alex Meagher. As a rebound caromed off the goalie, Stofferan chased after it and placed the puck into the right side of the net past Meagher’s glove to make it 3-1 at the 5:05 mark.
The Capitals quickly responded when Scholtes allowed an uncharacteristic goal as Tyler VanderMaten lofted a shot from the left circle that trickled out the WHS goalie’s glove and through the legs for the fourth goal at the 4:10 mark.
Pierre closed out the first period with another pair of goals as Bo Atkins scored on a power play with an assist to Mark Costello with 2:33 left and with 27 seconds to go before the first intermission as Joel Jochim deflected a puck in off a hard shot from Shoup-Owens from the left point.
“We gave up a couple of goals and the body language showed that we were just down,” Christopherson said. “And we hard a time keeping up with them the rest of the night.”
The visitors continued to widen the gap in the second period as Costello scored a goal 2:12 into the second off a Cash Anderson assist and they answered the second Trojan goal of the game at the 4:46 mark with two goals 36 seconds apart to take a 9-2 lead into the second intermission.
Those came at 3:49 when Jerome found the net for the second time off assists from Gilkerson and Seth Varty and at 3:13 as Wagner also scored his second goal when he muscled his way past a WHS defender in the slot for a goal through the five-hole.
Meanwhile, the Trojans’ second score came prior to Jerome and Wagner’s tallies as the hosts found the net while shorthanded.
Following a WHS penalty with 5:11 left in the second, Levi Leach intercepted a pass as the visitors tried to transition the power play into the Trojans’ end.
Leach skated with the puck through the neutral zone and with one player to beat as he crossed the blue line, the junior forward faked a slap shot and closed in on the goal when the defender bit on the fake. As Leach approached the goal, he rifled the puck past Meagher’s glove to make it 7-2 at the 4:46 mark.
“I kind of got on a lucky poke from one of the opponent’s passes and I picked it off,” Leach said. “Right away, I knew I was going to deke him. I was just going to try it as I haven’t done a lot of them this year.
“I did the fake slap shot and got around him (the defender) and then I got a good shot on the net.”
The third period saw the visitors score the game’s final goal early in the frame as the Capitals cycled the puck through the WHS zone. Gilkerson scored off of assists from Wagner and Jerome one minute, 15 seconds into the final period.
In the contest, the Capitals outshot the Trojans by a 35 to 20 margin.
Scholtes finished with 25 saves in net for WHS, while his counterpart, Meagher, finished with 18 saves.
Overall, the Trojans were disappointed in their performance in the second to last home game of the year.
“We weren’t playing 100 percent like we should have been,” Leach said.
Stofferan added, “We weren’t able to generate any offense. I know we had some guys missing, but that is really no excuse. We couldn’t get anything going in the offense zone and we were pinned back in our defensive zone most of the time. Once we did get the puck out, we really couldn’t it past the neutral zone.”
The Trojans fall to 3-16-1 with the loss and have nearly a week to prepare for the regular season finale on Thursday at home against Redwood Valley. WHS battled the Southwest Conference foe into overtime earlier in the season but lost in the extra frame by a score of 4-3 on Dec. 3.
“Hopefully, that will be some motivation for them,” Christopherson said of the previous loss to RV. “We have five practices left before the next game so we will just put this one behind us and start fresh with practice (today) and pick it up again next week.”
Stofferan feels that the Trojans will be able to regroup from Friday night’s loss.
“It’s the last regular season game and it is senior night,” the captain said. “It will be my last home game so that is definitely motivation for me.
“We’ve played really well at home this year compared to last year. This year, we’ve seemed to kind of turn it on a home, excluding (Friday night). I’m looking forward to it (Thursday’s game).”
Pierre 6 3 1 — 10
WHS 1 1 0 — 2