RED WING — Giving up five goals in a period of hockey would cripple most teams’ chances at victory. Red Wing nearly bucked that trend when it came back from a four-goal deficit to make it a one-goal game late in the third period but ultimately came up short and lost 7-4 to Henry Sibley in the opening round of the Section 4A boys’ hockey playoffs.
The five-goal barrage came in the first period for the Warriors but not before Jorgen Ulvenes scored his first goal of the season four minutes into the game to give Red Wing an early 1-0 lead. The period snowballed from there for the Wingers as Henry Sibley scored three goals in the span of two minutes and then added two more in the back half of the period to give them a 5-1 lead after 17 minutes of play.
The five goals weren’t from lucky bounces either. The Warriors peppered Red Wing goalie Dixon Ehlers with 24 shots and their forecheckers kept the puck in the Wingers’ defensive zone nearly the entire period. When Red Wing did get the puck out of their zone, they were frequently caught out of position and odd-man rushes went the other way creating more scoring opportunities for their opponent.
“Putting the first goal in we thought we were going to be off and rolling, but then they started putting a little bit more pressure on us in our own zone,” Red Wing head boys’ hockey coach Tony Casci said. “They overloaded on the forecheck so our D felt pretty pinched and we kept throwing it back into pressure. And when you do that, they’re going to start creating opportunities.”
With the first period out of the way and adjustments made during intermission, Red Wing came out in the second period with some energy. After being on the wrong end of a 17-shot differential in the first period, the Wingers had seven more shots on goal than the Warriors in the second period. Suddenly Red Wing was able to move the puck through neutral ice and carry it into the offensive zone, opening up some scoring chances.
The changes paid off 11 minutes into the period when Evan Petersmeyer finally broke through with a goal for Red Wing. Four minutes later, Casey Larson followed suit with a four-on-four goal to trim the deficit down to two goals after two periods.
“After the first, we started spreading it out behind our own net and ringing the puck a little bit more, spreading things out more on a wider base,” Casci said. “We broke it apart and said ‘hey, don't be thinking about five goals.’ Let's win this second period two-nothing and let's win the third period two-nothing and then this game's going into overtime.”
The third period started much the same way once Red Wing killed off a penalty in the opening two minutes. A Henry Sibley turnover in their own end of the ice resulted in the puck landing right on Larson’s stick, who then promptly buried it in the back of the net for his second goal of the game.
At that point, with 10 minutes remaining and all of the momentum, Red Wing was suddenly looking at a manageable 5-4 deficit. But then Henry Sibley returned to having success with its forecheckers as Red Wing began to push the envelope a bit with time not on their side. In doing so, the Warriors were able to control the neutral ice and spent the majority of the final 10 minutes with the puck in Red Wing’s half of the ice.
All of that puck possession eventually paid off for the Warriors and they were able to score with three minutes, 19 seconds remaining to give them a two-goal cushion. In the final minute Henry Sibley tallied one more for good measure on an empty net to seal the win.
The loss ended Red Wing’s season with a 4-13-1 record. It also marked the fourth year in a row the Wingers were knocked out of the section playoffs in the first round — the last two at the hands of Henry Sibley.
Goals: Casey Larson (2), Evan Petersmeyer and Jorgen Ulvenes
Assists: Petersmeyer (2), Larson (1), Hayden Zylka (1), Carson Ahern (1) and Aiden Borgen (1)
Saves: Dixon Ehlers 43-of-49
Shots on goal: Henry Sibley 50, Red Wing 25
Power plays: Henry Sibley 1-for-3, Red Wing 0-for-3