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Boys hockey: Early deficit too much for WHS to counter

Worthington boys hockey goalie Preston Thavixay moves for the corner Thursday but can't get the block as Minnesota River Bulldogs forward Brock Olson (5) slaps the puck in. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- After Worthington had given up its second goal in a span of 13 seconds, head coach Tyler Nienkerk told his boys hockey team they needed to wake up.

And the Trojans did, but a three-goal deficit in the first period was too much to overcome in a 7-4 loss to Minnesota River.

“I figured they’d be rusty,” Nienkerk said. “We talked about how we had a lot of games in a row and now we had a long break with the tournament getting canceled. I figured that. I was hoping the push wouldn’t be that hard for them.”

The Trojans hadn’t played since Dec. 20, and the rust showed early.

The Bulldogs’ Brady Sowder gave his team a 1-0 lead three minutes, 21 seconds into the game. Just 13 seconds later, Brock Olson scored, giving MR a 2-0 lead.

“I knew they were going to come in ready to roll,” Nienkerk said. “That’s a skilled team. You’re not going to be able to sleepwalk through with No. 8 (Hunter Wilmes) over there, he’s going to make you pay. It’s hard to come back against that.”

Danny McCabe gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

However, Worthington -- which was outshot 14-3 in the first period -- showed signs of life in the second period.

Kipton Jenson scored with Carlos Garcia assisting as the Trojans were within two. But Wilmes answered for MR and Logan Throldahl added a score as the Bulldogs were ahead 5-1.

Garcia scored a goal of his own as he deflected a shot into the net. Sammy Farra and Ryan Newman assisted. At the end of the second, the Bulldogs maintained their three-goal lead, 5-2.

“That’s what we talked about, we’re there, we’re in it,” Nienkerk said. “It’s just those small things. Who’s willing to do the extra things outside practice or before practice or put in the little extra effort, whether it’s getting to bed at night or coming ready to play. That’s on each individual if they want to be at the next level or if they are OK with the status quo.”

MR scored the first two goals of the third period, and didn’t need long to do it. Twenty-five seconds into the period, Jake Rimstad scored and 57 seconds later, Charlie Weick added a goal to push the lead to 7-2.

“I think (goalie) Preston (Thavixay) would tell you he’d like to have five of them back,” Nienkerk said. “But that’s the way it goes. It’s not like we’re just giving them shots from the point. They’re walking in and getting high quality chances. At the end of the day, we can’t give up seven. Unfortunately it falls on the goalie, but the defense has to see that and know they can do better and pick somebody up.”

Worthington added two goals shortly after. Jenson scored his second goal of the day -- with Garcia assisting -- and Newman scored on a breakaway. However, that was as close as the Trojans would get in a three-goal loss.

“They picked it up and started working. I’d still like to see a little more effort and a little more preparedness, but that’s where we’re at,” Nienkerk said. “It’s better, but still not quite there.”

Minnesota River 3 2 2 -- 7

Worthington 0 2 2 -- 4

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