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Bad luck leads to Royals’ first loss

By Eric Oslund - Star News, 11/22/16, 8:17PM CST


Monday night’s home game against the Princeton Tigers was just one of those games for the Rogers Royals girls hockey team, and head coach Joel Wesloh is hoping it doesn’t turn into one of those season. The Royals out shot the Tigers 32-15, but ended up losing the game 2-4.

It was very indicative of their first game of the season that ended in a tie 2-2, even though they out shot their opponents 48-16.

“Some bad breaks and, like I told our kids, if we’re not putting the puck in the net little mistakes can magnify, and that’s kind of what happened tonight,” Wesloh said. “We made a couple mistakes and they capitalized, and we couldn’t take advantage of having the puck for 75 percent of the game.”

The Tigers got things rolling first against the Royals, scoring 7:07 into the game. Maggie Peterson found MaCallan Dostal in front of the net, and she was able to bounce the puck off a Royals defender’s skate to give her team the 1-0 lead. It was an unfortunate turnover for the Royals, but it was an indication of how the night would go.

About three minutes after the first goal, one of the Rogers defenders would corral the puck, but lost an edge in front of her own bench, which caused her to lose the puck. Tigers forward Madisen Peterson would then scoop it up and put it in the back of the net, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

The Royals offense started clicking at that point in the game and really started to pepper the opposing net with shots. Then, with about four minutes remaining in the first period, there was a scramble in front of the Tigers’ net, which ended with a goal off the stick of Jenna Hatcher. It was the first varsity goal of her carrier, and was assisted by Ellie Feilen.

It seemed that things were finally going the Royals’ way, but a breakdown by the home team led to a turnover at the offensive blue line and a 2-on-1 break for the Tigers and their senior captain Larkin Walter was able to score with 20 seconds remaining in the period, with the assist coming from Madisen Peterson.

The Royals entered into the first intermission trailing 1-3, despite the fact that they out shot the Tigers 12-4.

It was a rough first period for freshman goaltender Hailey Hartlage, who only made one save on four shots. But she was able to bounce back nicely and stop all six shots that came her way in the second period. That’s what the coaching staff wanted to see from her because they don’t have many options after her.

“We’re kind of in a weird spot where she’s going to be back there pretty much regardless,” Wesloh said. “She’s going to need to be mentally tough because we don’t have an opportunity to give her a lot of breaks. I think she’s the type of kid that will bounce back, and we can build from that.”

The Royals would enter the second intermission trailing 2-3 after Ella Achterkirch intercepted a pass in front of the Tigers’ net and made them pay. Once again the Royals out shot the Tigers, totaling 12 compared to their opponent’s six.

It seemed as though the Royals’ may finally be able to take control of the game, as they were the only ones to score in the second period, but once again things just did not go their way. Tigers captain Larkin was able to control the puck at her own blue line and then skate down the length of the ice and score her second of the night, giving the Tigers a 4-2 lead.

The Royals would get multiple chances to score throughout the third period, including a power play with 5:13 remaining in the game, but they just could not buy a goal. They ended up losing 2-4, despite controlling the puck for a majority of the game and out shooting their opponent 32-15.

“Well, like I told our girls, I feel we’re the better team,” Wesloh began. “Unfortunately, we had a couple bad turnovers and pucks that didn’t go in for us.

“We just need to figure out how to score goals, and once we do that nobody’s going to want to play us, we’ll be pretty good.”

The Royals now sit at 1-1-1 and will look to bounce back in a mini tournament of sorts at Fergus Falls, Nov. 25-26. They will take on Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls, and hopefully find some “goal scoring magic,” according to their head coach.