Wildcat skaters post tie, loss
Late goals hurt the Wildcat hockey team in its last two games, a 3-3 tie with Chippewa Falls Thursday night and a 3-2 loss to Sun Prairie Saturday.
The Cardinals scored with 52 seconds remaining in regulation to forge a tie Thursday while Sun Prairie scored a shorthanded goal midway through the third period that turned out to be the game-winner Saturday.
The Cats slipped to 8-4-2 overall, 4-2-2 in the Big Rivers Conference. After visiting Hudson Tuesday night, they will host New Richmond on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Centre.
Head coach Nick Jenkins said the Cats need to regain their early season energy.
"We have lost some of the intensity that we played with early in the year, and we need to get it back," he said. "When we move our feet and finish our checks we are a good team. We struggle when we don't."
After a scoreless first period Thursday night against Chippewa Falls, the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead just over a minute into the second.
The Wildcats finally got on the board when Neal Edge flipped a backhander past Cardinal goalie Alex Tillotson at the 13:31 mark of the second. Trey Peterson and Mark Bennett assisted.
Chippewa scored a power play goal with 31 seconds left in the period to take a 2-1 lead after two, but the Cats came right back at the start of the third when Zach Lindquist scored an unassisted goal to tie the score, 2-2.
Dylan Dock netted his team-leading 15th goal of the season with just under four minutes remaining, assisted by Ben Novak, to give River Falls a 3-2 lead. But Chippewa knotted things up with 52 seconds in regulation. Neither team managed a shot in overtime.
Wildcat goalie Garrett Jensen made 20 saves as the Cats outshot the Cardinals 31-23.
"Chippewa is a scrappy team and they did a good job of plugging up the neutral zone and preventing us from gaining speed on the attack," Jenkins noted. "There were some bright spots but we need more of a sustained effort."
Jenkins said the Cats weren't ready for Saturday's game at UW-River Falls against Sun Prairie and made too many mental mistakes, including allowing a shorthanded goal that turned out to be the difference in the outcome.
"We are fine offensively, but defensively we need to be sharper," he said. "Good teams work just as hard in the defensive end, and we need to start taking pride in playing good defensive hockey. Being in good position isn't enough, we need to block shots, take and give hits, and just get after it in our own end."
Cooper Maxwell had a goal and an assist in Saturday's loss while Lindquist had the other Wildcat goal. Dock had two assists and Peterson had one while Jensen made 21 saves.