Coming off a loss seven days ago, the Red Wing boys' hockey team looked refreshed and recharged. The Wingers scored in the first two minutes of the game and had the look of a team ready to score a handful of goals.
Unfortunately for the Wingers, Faribault tied the game 1-1 in the first then took the lead midway through the third period. The Falcons added an empty-net goal, which proved extremely important in hindsight, to secure a 3-2 win over the Wingers on Thursday.
"You learn a lot (from a game like this), but I felt like we played a pretty solid game," said Red Wing head coach Tony Casci. "We don't have a lot of video to go through and say, 'man these are some huge mistakes.'"
Part of the reignited play of the Wingers came from newly shuffled forward lines. All three lines logged a lot of minutes as Casci continued to roll all three throughout the game. Being able to send out all three lines helped the Wingers stay fresh even after the Falcons went ahead 2-1 in the third.
"We have no problem rolling three lines," Casci said. "I think that's the biggest message that we've said this week. If we want to win games, we need to rely on all three lines. That's what we did tonight and I felt like we had some opportunities."
A turnover and quick transition by Jack Dube led to the first Winger goal. Dube carried the puck in, coasting past the lone Falcons defender to create a 2-on-0 for him and Isaac French. Dube waited, then passed the puck across the top of the crease to French who tapped it into a wide-open net.
"(Dube) definitely winked at me," French said as the two skated into the zone. "He was looking at me, and eyeing to me that he was going to pass the puck. Then instantly locked on to the goalie. He stared that goalie down and (the goalie) had no idea where he was going. He definitely thought Dube was going to shoot that puck until he slid it over last second and it was so easy to tap in to a wide-open net."
One of the new forward lines with Dube and Casey Larson, centered by French, put the Wingers out front quickly 1 minute, 31 seconds into the game.
"It was really all on Jack Dube there. He set up the whole play," French added. "He had that play set up from the time we crossed the blue line to the time we crossed the red line."
Later in the first, the Falcons tied the game on a rush that finished with a pinpoint wrist shot from Noah Murphy in the slot.
The second period was arguably the best 17 minutes for the Wingers as they had to kill off overlapping penalties to start the period. Casci said he noticed the Wingers gain an edge from it.
"Usually after you regroup a little bit after a penalty kill, but with the guys rolling they were able to almost gain some momentum," Casci said of the Winger penalty kill which didn't allow a goal in the 13 minutes that included a 5-minute major in the first.
The Wingers had chance after chance to break the 1-1 tie. Numerous times, the Wingers crashed the net or took shots from close range with rebounds being kicked back out to their defense for more shots on net. One in particular came from a sharper angle, caught someone in front of Falcon goalie Jack Dolter and was headed slowly in for a goal.
A Falcon defender dove into the paint behind Dolter and whacked the puck away as it was beginning to cross the red line.
"I don't know if it had enough to get across the line, but it was one we were all holding our breath on," Casci said.
Zach Slinger scored at 6:46 of the third and eventually buried an empty-net goal at 15:48 to put the Falcons up 3-1.
With under a minute to go, Logan Bryant scored his first varsity goal with Dube collecting his second assist of the game.
Winger goalie Aidan Coyle did all he could to help the Wingers remain in a position to win, saving 44 of 46 shots on net.
Red Wing (5-8) next hosts Simley on Saturday.