RED WING — Red Wing’s offensive struggles continued Thursday night at Prairie Island Arena against Big Nine Conference foe Rochester Mayo. The Spartans walloped the Wingers 7-0, handing Red Wing its fourth shutout loss this season.
Eight games into the season, Red Wing has had a rough start as they have a minus-28 goal differential. Of those eight games, nine of 12 goals scored came in their win and tie. Despite the frustration of not consistently finding their scoring touch each game, Red Wing head boys’ hockey coach Tony Casci said the lack of goals hasn’t been an effort problem.
“The guys never give up. That’s one thing we can always hang our hat on,” he said. “We’ve never had an issue with this group. They know when things aren’t going their way, they can control their effort and they showed that again tonight by ramping it up every time.”
The Wingers’ effort was visible for those in attendance as Red Wing endured a first period that could cripple some teams. After playing fairly even with Mayo for the first nine minutes, the Wingers gave up three goals in the span of two minutes. The barrage forced Casci to call a timeout to calm his team down and make some adjustments.
Part of that adjustment was to attempt some things they’ve barely practiced but had the chance to open up the passing lanes for pushing the puck up ice.
“We were running some systems out there that we've never practiced before,” Casci said. “We thought it could stop the bleeding a little bit and try to stretch the puck up the ice and get a few more chances and I think that's what the second period looked like.”
The second period was much closer in play but Mayo continued to find a way to score, whereas Red Wing couldn’t and the Spartans took a 5-0 lead into the second intermission. Mayo scored another quick goal at the start of the third period to push their lead up to 6-0, but then much like the prior period, Red Wing recovered and played much better hockey. The Spartans last goal came with two minutes left to play as the game was under a running clock.
Red Wing was outshot 47-23, but take away that dreadful first period and the Wingers knocked down that gap to 27-20. Calyn Blue got the start in the game for Red Wing making 40 saves for an .851 save percentage.
No matter the improved play in the final half of the game, the Wingers have still lost their last five games and frustration would be understandable for most teams. Much like the aforementioned effort level though, Casci isn’t too worried about whether his team can handle the adversity early in the season.
“I can't say enough about their character. They internalize it and make sure that they can help the team by getting better individually,” Casci said. “It is difficult but those are the life lessons they learned in sports, they're not going to learn that anywhere else.”
Red Wing, 1-6-1, is next scheduled to host Northfield on Thursday, Feb. 18.