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Boys hockey: Cat's can't get over hump

Wildcat goalie Jake Miller smothers the puck before Menomonie's Ryan Sisko can get his stick on it while Wildcat defenseman Joe Stoffel (20) helps out in the first period of the Cats' 5-4 loss to the Mustangs Thursday, Jan. 18, at Wildcat Centre. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Wildcat junior Jake Bergmanis (6) gets off an off-balance shot in the first period of the Cats' Big Rivers Conference game against Menomonie Thursday, Jan. 18, at Wildcat Centre. Bergmanis scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season in the game but the Cats came out on the short end of a 5-4 decision. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

The Wildcat boys hockey team made a pair of late comeback attempts in two games last week but came up one goal short in both, dropping a 4-3 nonconference decision to St. Paul Johnson Tuesday, Jan. 16, and a 5-4 Big Rivers Conference game to Menomonie Thursday, Jan. 18, at Wildcat Centre.

River Falls battled back from two-goal deficits in the third period of both games before running out of time and slipping to 4-13-1 overall, 2-6-0 in BRC play. The Cats hosted Rice Lake (7-12-1, 1-7-0) this past Tuesday, Jan. 23, and will visit Providence Academy in Plymouth, Minn. Saturday, Jan. 27.

Last Tuesday against St. Paul Johnson the Wildcats trailed 4-1 before scoring two goals in the last 2 minutes, 19 seconds, which made the final 4-3.

After a scoreless opening period Jake Bergmanis scored the first goal of the game 17 seconds into the second with assists from Wyatt Grundstrom and Max Morrow.

St. Paul Johnson went on to score four unanswered goals, two on the power play, to open up a 4-1 lead early in the third period before Bergmanis' second goal of the game with 2:19 remaining cut the deficit in half. Eric Bark and Braedon Harer picked up assists. Joe Stoffel struck just 1:05 later with Bergmanis and Grundstrom assisting but that's as close as the Cats could get.

Wildcat goalie Jake Miller finished with 28 saves as St. Paul Johnson outshot River Falls, 32-28.

Thursday night against Menomonie (4-13-0, 1-6-0), the Mustangs took a 2-0 first period lead before freshman Max Rotsaert scored his first varsity goal at the 12:45 mark of the second period with an assist from Bergmanis. Junior Taylor Rotsaert tied the score just 33 seconds later with an assist from Paulson, but the Mustangs scored just before the end of the period and again early in the third to open up a 4-2 lead.

The teams traded goals with Bergmanis scoring at 4:17, assisted by Tye Kusilek, and the Mustangs answering at 5:33 to go back up by two before Paulson scored an unassisted goal at the 9:54 mark to make the final 5-4.

Miller had 27 saves in the game as the Wildcats outshot the Mustangs, 34-32. It was the Cats' third straight one-goal loss.

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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