Playing top quality competition brought out the best in the New Richmond boys hockey team. Playing in the Wells Fargo Hockey Festival in Rochester, Minn. last week, the Tigers won two of their three games to take third place in the tournament. And their only loss was to a team that was undefeated and ranked tenth in Minnesota at the time.
In the tournament the Tigers scored wins over Fargo South and Rochester John Marshall and were beaten by Hastings.
The Tigers started the tournament last Tuesday, facing Fargo (N.D.) South. The Tigers fell behind 2-0, but a goal by Brady Powers just before the end of the first period got the Tigers rolling. The Tigers came back with two goals at the start of the second period from Powers and Tyler Hanson, to take a 3-2 lead.
There would be several more lead changes in the game. Fargo came back with two goals in the final two minutes of the second period to take a 4-3 lead.
Danny Wells scored on the power play 3:55 into the third period to tie the game for the Tigers. The score remained 4-4 until 5:40 left in regulation, when Fargo took a 5-4 lead. That lead didn't last long, with Chris Ellevold tying the score 49 seconds later.
That game stretched into overtime. With 5:24 elapsed in the overtime, Hanson scored the game-winner. Defenseman Brandon Larson had skated in from the point to hold the zone, carrying the puck low. He shot the puck toward the net, where it was blocked in front. Hanson pounced on the free puck and buried it for the game-winner.
Tiger coach Adam Swanda said the game-winner was typical of all the New Richmond goals. He said none of them were pretty goals, instead, they were all the result of hard work.
The win over Fargo put the Tigers in the semifinals against undefeated Hastings. The Tigers couldn't have asked for a better start to the game. They played Hastings even, then in the final 90 seconds of the first period, the Tigers struck twice. Justin Elmer scored the Tigers' first goal and Hanson scored a short-handed goal shortly after, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead at the break.
The Tigers kept the pressure on at the start of the second period. They took a 3-0 lead 6:33 into the period when Jon Sicsik scored.
Then penalties started to rain down on the Tigers. Hastings scored twice, 36 seconds apart, late in the second period. Hastings added two more goals, both on power plays, in the first three minutes of the third period, to take a 4-3 lead.
The Tigers didn't stop battling. They tied the score when Wells scored on an assist from Elmer.
Hastings then got two more goals, but the Tigers again kept battling. Ellevold scored with 3:17 left in regulation to cut Hastings' lead to 6-5. The Tigers were on the power play for most of the final two minutes of the game, but they couldn't get the tying goal.
Swanda said the main difference in this game was the penalties called against the Tigers.
"Five-on-five, I think we would have won the game," Swanda said. "We took it to them. We made the best of our scoring chances."
That moved the Tigers into Thursday's third place game against Rochester Mayo.
The Tigers made the most of their scoring chances and pounded Mayo, 8-3 to take third place.
It didn't take the Tigers long to take the lead, with Elmer scoring 2:46 into the game to put the Tigers ahead. Powers scored a short-handed goal at the 9:25, only to see Mayo score a power play goal 20 seconds later to make the score 2-1.
Aaron Pflueger scored four minutes into the second period, but Mayo answered three minutes later, making the score 3-2.
In the rest of the second period, the Tigers dominated the action. Goals from Wells, Dan Powers, Ellevold and Elmer put the Tigers ahead 7-2 late in the second period. Larson scored in the third period to make the final score 8-3.
"We just pounded them, we made the most of our chances," Swanda said of the Mayo win.
Matt Page was in goal for all three of the Tigers' games in the tournament.
Swanda said the support of the New Richmond fans, including having the NRHS band at their final two games, made a big impression on the other schools in the tournament.
"I got a lot of comments from fans from other towns. It was great to have the band down there," Swanda said.
The Tigers now return to Middle Border Conference play. They will play at home this Thursday, facing Baldwin-Woodville in a 7 p.m. start.