Published January 3, 2017 at 9:24 am
by Jared Hines
Contributing Sports Writer
Following a three-game losing streak, the Royals hockey team was ready to turn things around at the annual Schwan Cup in Blaine, Minn.
Unfortunately, the losing streak grew to five, before a 9-1 win against Cambridge-Isanti on New Year’s Eve brought the losing streak to an end.
The tournament started on Dec. 29 with a game against Bloomington Kennedy at the Schwan Super Rink. The Royals entered the game with consecutive losses to Roseau, Bemidji, and Buffalo (all as the visiting team), and looked to turn the tables in the Bronze Division of the 2016 Schwan Cup. The game got off to a great start for the Royals, with Jacob Vaillancourt scoring his first varsity goal just 4:20 into the game. The lead would last for over eight minutes before Kennedy’s Joseph Dosan knotted it up near the end of the first period.
Royals Tanner Voeller watches as his shot trickles into the net in the 9-1 victory over Cambridge-Isanti (Photo courtesy of Brianna Burnham)
The second and third period belonged to Bloomington Kennedy as well, as Dosan scored the game-winning goal 4:53 into the second period. Teammates Carter Christine and Erik Swenson added insurance goals in the third and Devin Dietz saved 22 shots in net, leading Kennedy to a 4-1 opening victory.
The Royals were back the next day against the Hudson Raiders, who traveled to Blaine from right across the Wisconsin border. Both teams had lost their opening game and looked to get back on track. Royals’ skater Justin Grudem put the Royals on track early in the game; scoring 1:01 into the first period off passes from teammates Jake Moss and Sam Libke. Johnny Preusse stopped all five shots that came at him in the first period, giving the Royals the lead into the first intermission.
Preusse got off to a rough start to begin the next period, allowing two goals by the Raiders in the first five minutes to give the lead to Hudson. The lead remained in favor of the Raiders for over ten minutes before Libke blasted a shot past Raiders goalie Anthony Howard to knot up the score heading into the third period.
Play turned physical in the third period, with both teams earning multiple penalties, including a game misconduct for Raiders skater George Nuutinen. Royals Nathan Thelen was given a two-minute minor for slashing, and Libke served a five- minute major for boarding. Raiders player Chase Blackmun also was given a major for head contact in the last two minutes of the game.
Josh Bridell (10), Sam Libke (16) and David Bauer (22) celebrate Libke’s goal in a 3-2 loss to Hudson. (Photo by Jared Hines)
Neither team scored in the third period until 1:21 remained in the game. On the power play, the Raiders’ Cole Danielson received a pass from Ben Lundeen and was able to get it past Preusse to push the Raiders past the Royals and force Rogers into the seventh place game on New Year’s Eve.
On the last day of 2016, the Royals nightmare was over and the team finally put a win on the board, their first win since Dec. 13. A sign of relief swept over the Royals as they skated off the ice in the team’s 9-1 victory over the Bluejackets from Cambridge-Isanti. The Royals scored seven goals in the second period of the victory, with both Grudem and Vaillancourt earning hat tricks in the win. Moss had three assists with Jordan Fischer, Michael VanStelten, and Tate Nelson all contributing two assists as well. Tanner Voeller, Owen Brewer, and Nathan Thelen scored the other goals for the Royals. Sophomore goalie Nathaniel Johnston earned his first win of the season; stopping 11 of 12 shots fired his way
Rogers (5-6) hopes to get back on track at home over the next week where the team will have three games at the Rogers Activity Center, all against Mississippi 8 conference opponents. The first game comes on Jan. 5 against the St. Michael-Albertville Knights who are 8-1-1 and coming off a 2-0-1 weekend in the Silver Division of the Schwan Cup. The Knights defeated Bloomington Jefferson and Mounds View before tying Breck 2-2 at Ridder Arena on New Year’s Eve. The Knights are led by Mitch Bourgerie (10 goals, 7 assists) and Blake Spetz (5 goals 10 assists). Knights’ goalie Kyle Hayden has a 1.67 goals against average and has posted a .931 save percentage through ten games.
Royals stats through 11 games:
Jordan Fischer: 10 goals, 10 assists
Jake Moss: 3 goals, 14 assists
Justin Grudem: 8 goals, 2 assists
Sam Libke: 3 goals, 7 assists
Michael VanStelten: 2 goals, 5 assists
Mitchell Becker: 3 goals, 4 assists
Jacob Vaillancourt: 4 goals, 2 assists
Nathan Thelen: 2 goals, 4 assists
David Bauer: 4 assists
Josh Bridell: 3 goals, 1 assist
Owen Brewer: 1 goal, 3 assists
Tanner Voeller: 2 goals, 1 assist
Jac Mateja: 1 assist
Johnny Preusse: .879 save percentage, 3.00 goals allowed average, 4-6 record (1 shutout)
Nathaniel Johnston: .917 save percentage, 1.00 goals allowed average, 1-0 record