WHS BOYS' HOCKEY: Trojans finish regular season with OT winWORTHINGTON — There was a slight hint of déjà vu in the Worthington boys’ hockey game against Redwood Valley on Thursday. The two teams had met previously this season, on Dec. 3, and Thursday’s game was eerily similar.
WORTHINGTON — There was a slight hint of déjà vu in the Worthington boys’ hockey game against Redwood Valley on Thursday.
The two teams had met previously this season, on Dec. 3, and Thursday’s game was eerily similar.
In December, the Trojans led their opponent 3-2 mid-way through the third period before giving up the tying goal and sending the game into overtime.
The exact same thing happened Thursday.
However, there is one key variation between the two games.
In December, the Cardinals managed to net the winning OT goal. But on Thursday, it was the Trojans who left the game victorious.
WHS finished the regular season with a 4-3 OT victory over RV, ending with a 4-16-1 record.
“When we were there in December it was almost an identical game,” WHS head coach Pat Christopherson said. “The shots and everything were almost the same as they were tonight. These are two pretty evenly matched teams.
“It was a nice win tonight. It was a great way to end the regular season.”
Ethan Stofferan scored the winning goal for the Trojans on an assist from Kody Honius.
The goal came with just 3:01 left in the extra period and caused the Worthington bench to clear as the players hog-piled Stofferan in front of the home crowd.
The victory gave WHS its first conference win in three seasons and puts them in the running to potentially host a first-round tournament game later this month.
“Kody was skating down the ice and got hooked pretty bad, but he managed to get the puck to me,” Stofferan said of the OT goal. “I busted to the net and hit it off the crossbar. I managed to bat it out of the air and put it in the back of the net.
“Wow, it was great. What a finish to a great game.”
RV’s Jordan Skeie (assist Austin Kretsch and Hunter Breidenbach) scored the first goal of the game with 5:05 left in the first period.
But WHS responded just 30 seconds later (4:34) on an Alex Kremer goal assisted by Levi Leach to make the score 1-1 entering the first game break.
Kremer came out of the gates running in the second period, notching his second goal of the game with 16:32 left in the middle period. The goal was assisted by Jacob Molden.
The Trojans held off their opponents for most of that period, giving up only nine shots on net — the fewest for RV in any of the regulation periods of the game.
But Devon Sandgren (assist Chris Verdoes and Jacob Prouty) snuck one past WHS goalie Rylan Scholtes with 2:38 left in the period to tie the game at 2-all, entering the second intermission.
The third period went similarly for both teams. The Trojans quickly got on the board again on a Stofferan goal with an assist from Alex Thompson with 15:55 left in regulation.
And once again, RV managed to tie the game up with a late goal. The Cardinals made the score 3-3 with just 1:55 left in the third period on a Kretsch goal (assist Cerdoes and Skeie).
“We had done a lot of things well throughout the game,” Christopherson said. “We found that dumping it deep was very beneficial to us. If we just maintained that and didn’t make that critical mistake in our end then we would’ve been fine.
“But regardless, they were pretty jacked to get this one tonight. The opportunity was there and they responded really well to it.”
Knowing that the game was going almost identically to the December game between the two teams motivated the Trojans even more to finish strong.
And Stofferan said the team used that to its advantage in OT and that motivation ultimately helped WHS win the game.
“As soon as I skated over to the bench after the third period, I told my teammates that this was our game for the taking,” Stofferan said. “We needed to have more desire than they did because the game was going to come down to who wanted it more. We had gotten ourselves into the same situation we were in earlier this season and we wanted to change the outcome this time around.”
The Trojans finished with 42 shots on goal (39 saves for Scholtes), compared to the Cardinals’ 41.
It was the first time WHS had played with a full roster in nearly a month because of injuries and other school events.
And although Christopherson thought every member of the squad played soundly, there were two players that stood out above the rest to the coach.
“Rylan was outstanding tonight,” he said. “He had a really good rebound game. He made some big saves and he was very calm and focused in the net. He was overall technically sound and that’s all we want from him.
“Ethan, too, was obviously very strong. All the guys feed off of his effort and how strong and powerful he is on the ice. He really is a key to our success.”
Thursday’s game concluded the regular season, and Christopherson said the Trojans will have nearly three weeks off before tournament play starts up.
Until then, WHS is going to focus on some adjustments that need to be made and hope that its overtime victory over RV helps propel them to further success.
“We just want to build off of this win, and it’s a good one to work from,” Stofferan said. “It was a good game and I think it can lead to another good game. There’s just some little things we need to work on until then.”
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Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.