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Warriors trip up Wildcat skaters

Rice Lake scored a pair of shorthanded goals in the third period that proved to be the difference as the Warriors spoiled the Wildcat hockey team's home opener with a 5-3 victory Thursday, Nov. 29, at Wildcat Centre.

Freshman Billy Jerry scored an unassisted power play goal in the final minute to cut the Warriors' lead to two, but that's as close as the Cats could get.

Wildcat coach Mike Kealy said the Cats played well at times but are still working to put together a complete performance.

"Being a new coaching staff, it is going to take some time to implement all of our coverages, and take time for all the players to understand them and get on the same page," he said. "My goal is to have the team improve on each performance."

Casey Jerry gave River Falls a 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal just over three minutes into the first period but the Warriors scored twice in a 42 second span later in the first to take a 2-1 lead.

After a scoreless second period, the Warriors scored 19 seconds into the third, then netted a shorthanded goal at the 6:53 mark to extend their lead to 4-1.

The Cats cut it to 4-2 on a Connor Maxwell goal at the 11:28 mark, assisted by Casey Jerry and Billy Jerry, but another shorthanded goal by the Warriors made it a 5-2 game with 38 seconds remaining. Billy Jerry's power play goal came just nine seconds later.

Kealy said he likes his team's aggressiveness, but it needs to play under more control.

"We are a very aggressive team, we need to remain aggressive in a disciplined way," he said. "Competing in the Big Rivers Conference is going to make us better; every team is filled with good players."

Wildcat goalie Corbin Renslow finished with 36 saves as the Warriors outshot the Wildcats, 41-35.

"Corbin Renslow had a big night that kept us in it late in the game," Kealy said.

Kealy said he was also impressed with the atmosphere at Wildcat Centre for the Cats' home opener.

"It was a great atmosphere to open our home schedule," he said. "The fans were loud and proud' one of the biggest turnouts in a long time. I hope they continue to support the team all season."

After hosting Superior this past Tuesday, the Cats visit Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Dec. 6 and travel to St. Paul for a nonconference game against Simley on Saturday.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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