Skaters come up short in two losses
Wildcat hockey coach Nick Jenkins is seeing some good things from his team, just not enough to win games lately.
The Cats saw their losing streak stretch to three straight with a pair of one-goal losses last week, 3-2 to Hudson last Tuesday and 4-3 in overtime Saturday to New Richmond.
"We have lost some close games, but there are bright spots," Jenkins said. "We need to start playing three periods of hockey from start to finish."
River Falls, now 8-6-2 overall, 4-3-2 in the Big Rivers Conference, hosted Eau Claire Memorial (13-5-1, 8-0-0) Tuesday night and will visit Menomonie (9-7-1, 5-3-1) Saturday before hosting former coach Jim Joseph and his Simley, Minn., team on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m.
Last Tuesday at Hudson, Wildcat goalie Garrett Jensen stopped the first 21 shots he faced but the Raiders kept crashing the net and came away with a 3-2 victory.
Jensen kept the Raiders off the scoreboard until the 8:12 mark of the second period, despite Hudson holding a 21-5 shots on goal advantage up to that point. Ryan Dau accounted for the Raider goal.
The Wildcats tied it on a power play goal by Zach Lindquist, assisted by Cooper Maxwell and Ben Novak, just under four minutes later.
Ryan Dau and Evan Huseboe scored one minute apart early in the third period to give Hudson a 3-1 lead. River Falls made the final 3-2 on a goal by Kyle Hargrave, assisted by Dylan Dock, with just under six minutes remaining.
"We were flat from the start and fortunate to be in the game after two periods," Jenkins said. "Garrett did a nice job of keeping us in it, which from time to time you need your goaltender to do."
Jensen finished with 26 saves as the Raiders outshot the Wildcats 29-18.
Saturday at home against New Richmond, the Tigers' Jake Bellows scored 2:38 into overtime to lift the Tigers to a 4-3 win over River Falls.
"It was an up and down game, and each team had opportunities," Jenkins said. "It goes to OT, we have a chance to win with a 3-on-1 rush and didn't convert, they grab the puck and go down and score. That's overtime hockey. You need to can your chances."
Dock gave the Cats an early 1-0 lead, assisted by Lindquist, 56 seconds into the game but the Tigers tied it on a goal by Parker Olson less than three minutes later. Trey Peterson gave River Falls a 2-1 lead with an unassisted goal at the 6:21 mark.
New Richmond scored the only goal in the second period off the stick of Zack Kier to tie the score, then took a 3-2 lead midway through the third on a goal by Sam Stroot.
Novak knotted things up for River Falls with just under three minutes remaining, assisted by Peterson, to force overtime.
Jensen finished with 30 saves as the Tigers outshot the Wildcats 34-22.
"We played a tough game against a good New Richmond team," Jenkins said. "We fought hard. We had some kids step up and play hard-nosed hockey, which we'll need from here on out."