East Ridge 5, Apple Valley 1

As the East Ridge boys hockey team went onto the ice at Apple Valley Sports Arena on Tuesday night, there was only one thought that crossed each of the players' minds.

They didn't want to make this night the last night of the hockey season.

Once the puck was dropped, the Raptors played with that mentality all night.

"We know how much this season means to the seniors and we didn't want to end it tonight," said junior Marco Troje. "It was great to see us get the win."

The game started out fast and head coach Dustin Vogelgesang said he expected that to happen. He knew the tempo was going to be fast because it's potentially the last game for each of the teams.

The Raptors came out firing though with some strong passing and getting behind the Apple Valley's defensemen to find the back of the net. That strategy led to two goals halfway through the first period for East Ridge.

First, Carter Siedl started the scoring and Marco Troje ended the first with his own goal to give the Raptors a 2-0 lead. Then, Troje came back in the second period and scored his second goal of the game to give East Ridge a 3-0 lead over Apple Valley heading into the final period.

"Having that lead early in the game and holding onto it heading into the last period was a big momentum boost," Siedl said. "We wanted to make sure we continued playing our game though in the third period."

That game continued as Troje recorded his third goal a couple minutes into the third period to complete the hat trick in the game. Then, after Apple Valley scored, Siedl came back to score his second goal of the game to give East Ridge a 5-1 final score and a win.

"I was hoping we could use all four lines tonight and we were able to do that so I was happy about that," Vogelgesang said. "I thought Tomy [Ogren] was outstanding tonight and he kept the door shut when we needed him to and he was our number one star tonight."

Ogren had a hard week heading into the section tournament, but refocused for tonight and showed why he's the starting goalie for the Raptors. He saved 31 shots on 32 attempts on Tuesday night, which gave him a 96.9 save percentage.

Ogren knew he had to step up in this tournament and he was happy to help out the team on his end. He said his defense was outstanding in helping him find the pucks and stop some of the pucks that came his way.

"It's easy to get excited for these types of games, but I made sure to stay calm," Ogren said. "You just have to take the night play-by-play."

Siedl and Troje each agreed that it's nice having Ogren as goalie because they trust he'll be a brick wall and stop anything that comes his way.

Now, the Raptors turn their attention to the No. 1 seed St. Thomas Academy in the quarterfinals of the section tournament. East Ridge will travel to St. Thomas Academy on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. for a spot in the semifinals.

St. Thomas Academy is 21-3-1 on the season and has shown why they're the No. 1 seed, but the Raptors are excited for the challenge.

"You're going to have to play them sometime, so we're ready for Thursday," Siedl said. "It's what we've been wanting all year."

East Ridge has been eliminated by St. Thomas Academy for the past two seasons and they're ready to make sure that streak ends this season. Vogelgesang and the rest of the team agreed that this wasn't their best hockey game and they would need to fix some things in preparation for Thursday's game.

"We'll have a gameplan for practice tomorrow," Vogelgesang said. "We'll be ready for Thursday's game."