Skaters let their play do the talking
The Wildcat hockey team just keeps on winning.
The Cats improved to 15-2-1 overall with a 5-3 nonconference victory over Amery Monday night. Last week Tuesday they blanked Menomonie, 6-0, to improve to 8-1-1 in the Big Rivers Conference and knocked off New Richmond, 3-2, in a nonconference game Saturday afternoon in New Richmond.
The Cats' six-game winning streak apparently did little to impress the other coaches at Sunday's sectional seeding meeting however. Despite currently being ranked the No. 3 team in the state in the Wisconsin Prep Hockey Poll, River Falls received the No. 3 seed in the 11-team sectional. Superior, the No. 4 team in the state with a record of 12-6-0 was awarded the top seed while unranked Hudson, 12-5-1 and 8-2-1 in the BRC, earned the No. 2 spot.
River Falls and Hudson are currently tied for first place in the BRC with 17 points each. The Raiders are the only team in the BRC the Wildcats have not beaten this year. The two teams played to a 3-3 tie in Hudson back on Dec. 11 and Hudson escaped with a 4-2 win at River Falls Jan. 22.
Wildcat head coach Nick Jenkins declined to comment on the sectional seeding, but said he is pleased with how his team played last week, especially in its 6-0 win over Menomonie (3-7-0, 8-9-0), who was fresh off a 3-2 win over Superior.
"We approached this game as a playoff game," he said. "Menomonie had beaten a nice team three days earlier and we wanted to make a statement. Menomonie is a hard working team and they have played everyone close all year, so we wanted to get the momentum early and keep it."
That's exactly what happened when Danny Patrick tipped in a Robbie Richison shot from the point just 1:23 into the contest. Karl Andersen made it a 2-0 game just 48 seconds later when he stole the puck in the Indians' zone and beat Menomonie goalie Treysen Vavra for an unassisted goal, his first of two in the win.
Ross Andersen made it a 3-0 game with the first of his two goals at the 11:57 mark of the first, assisted by Cooper Maxwell.
Luke Jenkins scored the only goal of the second period, assisted by Jackson Rohde and Karl Andersen, before brothers Karl and Ross Andersen scored 28 seconds apart early in the third period to make the final 6-0.
Karl Andersen's goal came 2:36 into the period and was assisted by Jenkins and Danny Patrick while Ross Andersen scored at the 3:04 mark with assists from Jenkins and Dylan Dock.
Goaltender Garrett Jensen stopped all 22 shots he faced to record his fourth shutout of the season. River Falls outshot Menomonie 41-22.
"We played a complete game," Jenkins said. "We got good efforts from three lines and our defensemen were solid. Garrett made some nice saves when he had to and we did a good job of making sure Menomonie didn't get to our net for second chances."
Saturday in New Richmond (8-9-0), Dock had two goals and Ross Andersen had a goal and two assists in a 3-2 victory over the Tigers.
"We found a way to win against a tough opponent on the road," Jenkins said. "We had some breakdowns and again Garrett was able to make some nice saves when New Richmond got behind us."
Ross Andersen gave the Cats a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the first period, assisted by Jenkins and Zach Bennett. Dock netted a power play goal at the 7:06 mark of the second, assisted by Ross Andersen, but the Tigers cut the Wildcat lead in half with just over two minutes remaining in the period on a goal by Jared Singerhouse.
Dock's second goal of the game, again assisted by Ross Andersen, came at the 3:38 mark of the third. Josh Leavens scored for New Richmond at the 8:18 mark to make the final 3-2.
Jensen made 16 saves as the Cats outshot the Tigers 34-18.
River Falls will travel to Rice Lake (6-5-0, 12-7-0) Thursday and return home to host Eau Claire North (2-8-0, 7-10-0) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Centre. They will open regional play next Thursday, Feb. 19, at home against the winner of Tuesday night's game between No. 6 Amery and No. 11 Barron.