By: Jared Hines (@Jared_Hines27)
The 2016-17 boys hockey season has barely gotten underway but one thing that is already certain about Rogers is that they know how to score goals.
The Royals proved that again on Dec. 13, defeating River Lakes 3-2 to move to 4-1 on the season. The Royals have scored 23 goals in just five games, including three goals a piece in each of the last two games. Saturday’s three-goal performance came in a 4-3 overtime loss to Chanhassen, the team’s first loss of the year.
“River Lakes plays a very different defensive style of play compared to the other teams that we play,” Royals senior Sam Libke said. “I think our team did a good job of adjusting to that play style. The points were open more and our forwards did a good job of reading that, getting it to the defense and then crashing the net.
Libke received a pass 11:43 into the first period from Michael VanStelten. He fired it at River Lakes goalie Jonathan Terwisscha, who initially stopped it, but then lost track of its whereabouts as it trickled into the net.
River Lakes tied the game early into the second period with a short-handed goal by Jake Jenson before both goalies went on hot streaks, stopping anything that came their way. After two periods, the Royals led 25-14 in shots on goal, but still just had Libke’s goal to show for it.
“We need to keep working on avoiding penalties,” Libke said. “We did a good job tonight, but other nights haven’t been as good. We need to give our offense a chance to run our forecheck five-on-five and not be a man down all the time.”
The team came out firing in the third period, showing a sense of urgency that wasn’t seen in periods one and two. Just 2:12 into the third period, Owen Brewer found Libke, who hit leading scorer Jordan Fischer cutting towards the net. Fischer was able to put the puck in net to put the Royals up 2-1 and give them a minor advantage early in the third period.
36 seconds later, Josh Bridell saw a Brewer shot deflect off the River Lakes goalie and right onto his stick, where he was able to give the Royals a 3-1 lead with his second goal of the season. When asked who played well tonight, Libke has this to say.
“David Bauer,” he replied quickly. “He had two assists and was making the dirty plays and taking hits along the boards and winning battles all over the ice.”
Bauer’s assists on both Libke’s and Bridell’s goals were No. 3 and 4 on the year, earning a point in three of the five Royals games this year. Members of the team know they will need Bauer’s aggressiveness this weekend, when the Royals take a trip up north to play Roseau and Bemidji.
“That’s been one of our key things to work on every game this year,” Libke said about being aggressive while still avoiding penalties. “Especially going up north where they like to hit. We need to keep our hands, sticks, and tempers down like we did tonight.”