Wildcats pick up conference win over L/D-C

After being shut out by St. Michael-Albertville on Jan. 8 in a 6-0 loss, the Waconia boys’ hockey team rallied for two large wins, the first an 8-2 conference victory over Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, and then a 7-2 win over Minnehaha Academy.

STMA 6, Waconia 0

Hosting the Knights on Jan. 8, Waconia head coach Dan Benham said the Wildcats never really got going during the game.

“STMA did a good job of shutting down the middle of the ice and forcing us to take bad angle shots,” he said.

Senior Ryan Mattson faces off in the Wildcats' Jan. 8 game against STMA.
Senior Ryan Mattson faces off in the Wildcats’ Jan. 8 game against STMA.

The Knights led by one after the first period, but when they had scored thrice more in the second in the span of two minutes, Benham made a goalie switch. Junior Matt Molinari replaced senior Nathan Kovach in goal for the remainder of the game.

A series of heavy penalties kicked off the third period for the Wildcats. At 5:48, and then again at 6:28, three major penalties were assigned, including one for boarding (5:00), checking from behind (5:00), and checking from behind – misconduct (10:00).

At 6:51, with the Wildcats down to three players on the ice, the Knights scored on the power play. Still on the power play two minutes later, they scored again at 9:06 to win the game 6-0 over Waconia.

Waconia had two more shots on goal than the Knights, 28-26, but the Knights ability to work around Waconia’s goalies would seal the game. Kovach was in net for 21:20 and saved 10 of 14 shots on goal for a .714 save percentage. He was credited with the loss. Molinari played the last 29:40 and saved 11 of 13 shots (.846 percent saved).

Senior Kyle Kauma grabs the puck from an STMA defender Jan. 8.
Senior Kyle Kauma grabs the puck from an STMA defender Jan. 8.

Waconia 8, Litch/D-C 2

In conference action on Jan. 10, the Wildcats defeated the Dragons of the Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato co-op 8-2 at home.

Although the Dragons were first on the scoreboard at 2:51, the Wildcats crashed the goal for the remainder of the first period, knocking in four goals. First at 4:04, senior Tanner Riebel scored his first of the game, assisted by senior Ben Kullman and sophomore Joe Benson. Riebel scored again at 6:19, assisted again by Kullman and Benson.

At 12:47, junior Alex Fortwengler scored Waconia goal number three unassisted, before junior Alex Tasson would wrap up the period with a goal assisted by junior Sam Schiffman at 14:06.

The Dragons managed one goal at 11:20 in the second period to bring the score to 4-2. The Wildcats were shut out in the second.

Four additional Waconia goals in the third period sealed the 8-2 victory for the ‘Cats, started by sophomore Cal Rassman at 2:50. Rassman’s goal was assisted by seniors Alec Bohman and Justin Reinke. Junior Jeff Balow scored unassisted at 3:26.

Kullman scored his first goal of the season at 7:04, assisted by Reinke and Riebel.

Junior Blaine Wilsey wrapped up the game for the ‘Cats at 14:27 with the final goal, assisted by senior Ryan Mattson and junior Kevin Kittleson.

Waconia won the shots on goal battle 45-31.   Kovach saved 29 of 31 Dragon shots for a .935 save percentage.

Waconia 7, Minnehaha 2

It seems that when the Wildcats win a game, they win big, and the trend continued Jan. 12 in a five-goal victory over the Minnehaha Redhawks.

Minnehaha led 1-0 after the first period, but the Wildcats took over in the second, scoring just 34 seconds in. On assists from Tasson and sophomore Collin Reus, Mattson scored to tie the game. Then at 8:05, Riebel found the back of the net for a power play goal on assists from Mattson and Reinke.

Wilsey scored a second power play goal at 16:07, assisted by Riebel and Reinke.

The Wildcat domination continued into the third period, as the Wildcats posted four additional goals. On a third power play, Kittleson scored (assisted by Mattson) at 3:40, followed by a Mattson power play goal at 7:19 (assisted by Kittleson and Reinke).

Wilsey scored his second goal of the game at 9:27 on assists from Mattson and sophomore Matt Fulkerson.

Minnehaha scored just seconds later at 9:41, but the Wildcats still led by four goals.

Sophomore Cal Rassman sealed the victory for Waconia at 16:10 in the third period, scoring an unassisted goal.

The Wildcats had 47 shots on goal. Kovach saved 13 shots for a .867 save percentage.

Benham said the team played really well in both the Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato and Minnehaha wins.

“In practice we have been focusing on doing the little things better and that has helped us find the back of the net,” he said.

The Wildcats are just 1-2 in the Wright County Conference, but are 6-8 overall this season. They will host Chaska on Jan. 19 and Mound-Westonka on Jan. 22.

Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]