Wildcats burned by Fire

Junior Jeff Balow speeds toward the goal in the first period of the Wildcats’ 7-2 loss to Holy Family.
Junior Jeff Balow speeds toward the goal in the first period of the Wildcats’ 7-2 loss to Holy Family.

A loss to Holy Family and a tie against Chaska defined last week for the Waconia boys’ hockey team. The Wildcats are now 6-9-1 this season and are swimming near the bottom of the Wright County Conference with just one conference victory.

Holy Family 7, Waconia 2

In the team’s biggest rivalry game of the season, the Wildcats fell to the Holy Family Fire 7-2. Junior Alex Tasson put the first points on the board, scoring early in the first period on an assist from senior Justin Reinke. The Fire put in two goals to lead 2-1 after the first.

Each team scored once in the second, with the Wildcats’ goal coming off the stick of senior Tanner Riebel on an assist from junior Jeff Balow.

Holy Family dominated the third, getting four goals past Waconia senior goalie Nathan Kovach to win 7-2.

Wildcat head coach Dan Benham said the Fire are a good skating team that kept the pressure on throughout the game.
“I thought we started out playing well, scoring in the first two minutes,” he said. “That good play continued until half way through the third when our legs got a little heavy.”

Although the Wildcats peppered the Holy Family goal in the first period, the Fire outshot Waconia 47-26 overall. Kovach saved 40 of 47 shots for a .851 save percentage.

Waconia 3, Chaska 3

Hosting the Hawks Jan. 19, the Wildcats quickly dropped behind 3-0 in the first period, before Riebel scored a short-handed goal at 15:00.

The Wildcats continued to rally into the second period, scoring twice more to tie the game at 3-3. First at 4:40, senior Ryan Mattson scored on a power play, assisted by junior Kevin Kittleson. Riebel scored at 11:25 on assists from junior Sam Schiffman and senior Ben Kullman.

Neither team was able to score in the third or overtime periods and the game ended in the 3-3 stalemate. Shots on goal were fairly even, with Chaska inching ahead of Waconia 44-40. Kovach saved 41 shots for a .932 save percentage.

Benham said the team start slowly, but came back well.

“I was very impressed on how the boys rebounded and tied the game and gave us some good opportunities to win,” he said.

As the team continues to work toward the end of the season, Benham hopes the Wildcats will be playing some of their best hockey in the playoffs.

Waconia will be at Delano Jan. 29 and Providence Academy Jan. 31.

Contact Melissa Marohl at melissa.marohl@ecm-inc.com