Published January 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm
by Jared Hines
Contributing Sports Writer
Coming off two straight conference losses to St. Michael-Albertville and Monticello, the Rogers boys’ hockey team was ready to turn a corner and show that they could still compete with the conference’s best teams.
The Royals did just that, winning two straight Mississippi 8 games en route to inching back to .500 on the season.
“it’s very important to have a full roster in order to play together as a team and get the chemistry we need to be successful,” said Royals skater Justin Grudem.
Jacob Vaillancourt has seven goals in the last six games for the Royals. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Burnham)
The mini-win streak started on Jan. 12, with the Royals taking on the Princeton Tigers at the Rogers Activity Center. Grudem and the rest of the Royals came out firing, with Grudem scoring the team’s first of three goals in the first period alone. Jake Moss and David Bauer also scored in the first period in which the Royals outshot the Tigers 16-5.
Nobody knew, but the Royals were just getting started.
“The team has to continue with its attitude,” Bauer said. “We need to build off this win and get ready for the next game by preparing mentally.”
Bauer was one of four Royals to score in the second period of the Royals 10-0 win over Princeton. Sam Libke and Michael VanStelten also scored in the period, with Royals leading scorer Jordan Fischer scoring twice in extending the Royals lead to 8-0. VanStelten and Jacob Vaillancourt scored in the third period for goals No. 9 and 10 on the night.
“Michael VanStelten is playing very well lately,” Bauer said. He’s going into the corners to get the puck and always comes out with it. Me and him work very well together.”
Members of the Royals took their momentum with them to Cambridge-Isanti two days later, where the Royals overcame a 2-1 deficit, scoring four unanswered goals in the second and third periods to defeat the Bluejackets 5-2. Rogers outshot Cambridge-Isanti 21-17, with Vaillancourt, Fischer, Moss, Owen Brewer, and Tanner Voeller scoring the goals for the Royals. Rogers goalie Jonathan Preusse had 15 saves in the victory, his seventh win of the season.
The Royals tried to move back to .500 on Jan 17 against non-conference opponent Champlin Park. Vailliancourt scored in the second period—his third straight game with a goal– to put the Royals on top 1-0 but the Royals scoring would end there. The Rebels came back and tied it late in the second period, scoring the game winning goal with 38 seconds left in the game. The Royals outshot the Rebels 31-11 in the loss.
The Royals are now 7-9 on the season and 4-3 in the Mississippi 8 Conference. Buffalo currently leads the conference with a 6-1 record. The Royals next game is Jan. 21 against Chisago Lakes (8-8).
Player Stats as of January 13th, 2017: (16 games)
Jordan Fischer: 14 goals, 14 assists
Jake Moss: 7 goals, 19 assists
Justin Grudem: 10 goals, 6 assists
Sam Libke: 4 goals, 11 assists
Michael VanStelten: 4 goals, 7 assists
Mitchell Becker: 3 goals, 8 assists
Jacob Vaillancourt: 8 goals, 2 assists
David Bauer: 2 goals, 7 assists
Nathan Thelen: 3 goals, 6 assists
Josh Bridell: 3 goals, 4 assists
Owen Brewer: 2 goals, 4 assists
Tanner Voeller: 3 goals, 1 assist
Tate Nelson: 1 goal, 3 assists
Jac Mateja: 1 assist
Matt Becker: 1 assist
Jonathan Preusse: .882 save percentage, 2.68 goals allowed average, 2 shutouts
Published January 9, 2017 at 3:34 pm
by Jared Hines
Contributing Sports Writer
Late in the second period of the Jan. 5 game between Rogers and St. Michael-Albertville, Justin Grudem scored a goal to put the Royals hockey team up 3-1 against the rival Knights.
The upset was in the making, and with just one period left, the Royals held the 2-goal lead and all the momentum. The win would turn the season around for the struggling Royals, while a loss would push the team to its sixth loss in its last seven games.
Sam Libke skates with the puck in the Royals 5-4 loss to the Knights. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Burnham)
The Knights comeback began 4:27 into the third period when Ryan Copeland found Cody Kelly, who put the puck past Royals goalie Nathaniel Johnston to make it 3-2 in favor of the Royals. Just halfway into the period, Jordan Drobinski tied it and at 11:24 into the third period, Carson Wooters gave the Knights the lead off an assist from leading scorer Mitch Bourgerie.
“Unfortunate to say the least,” Royals skater Josh Bridell said. Bridell wasn’t able to be play in the game, battling the flu bug that has affected many of the Royals skaters throughout the last couple of weeks.
The fourth unanswered goal from the Knights came with just under three minutes to go in the game, with Blake Spetz giving the Knights the 2-goal lead that the Royals had just one period prior. Royals’ Jordan Fischer scored a goal with just over a minute left in the game, but it was too little, too late for the Royals squad that exited the ice with their heads down and thinking what could have been.
Members of the Royals celebrate an early goal against the Knights on Jan. 5. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Burnham)
Five different Knights scored the team’s five goals in the victory, with six different skaters earning assists. STMA moved to 9-1-1 on the year with the victory, including a 2-1 record in the Mississippi 8 conference.
“At least we get another shot at them this year,” Bridell said.
Members of the Royals couldn’t hold their heads down for too long, though, as Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake (MAML) made their way to the Rogers Activity Center two days later for another conference matchup that the Royals desperately needed. Unlike the game against the Knights, this time the Royals never led, falling 0-3 against MAML before Jake Moss scored two third-period goals to try and bring the Royals back. Ben Ward, Jack Saunders, and Nick Zwack scored the goals for MAML, while the team out shot the Royals 31-21. Jordan Fischer had two assists in the loss, No. 11 and 12 of the year while Moss’ goals were his fourth and fifth of his year. The two lead the Royals with 23 (Fischer) and 22 (Moss) points.
Rogers is 5-8 on the season and 2-3 in the conference after the losses to St. Michael-Albertville and MAML. The team started 4-1, winning just one game since Dec. 13. Rogers looks to get back on track on Jan. 12 when the team takes on the Tigers from Princeton. The Tigers are 6-3-1 this season.
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