First-win opportunity escapes Bluejay boys
The Bluejay hockey team had the inside track at collecting its first victory of the season when Medford came to town on Friday night.
The Bluejays held a 4-3 edge at the end of the second period against a squad that has also struggled to win this season.
But Medford scored a trio of goals in the third–including an open-netter in the final two minutes of the game after MHS pulled goalkeeper Stephen Simon in a desperate attempt to send the game to overtime–to notch a 6-4 triumph.
The Red Raiders improved to 2-7 with both its wins over Merrill. Medford had prevailed 5-4 in overtime in the season opener for both squads.
“Overall, the guys gave a very good effort tonight,” MHS coach Chase Nelson said. “The difference between winning and losing came down to some physical mistakes.
“We keep getting better and better with each game, but ultimately our games come down to limiting both mental and physical mistakes.”
Merrill struck first with a goal from Nick Hoffmann with help from Dylan Heller and Bryce Swiechowski with 11:22 elapsed in the opening period. Almost exactly a minute later, Jed Ecker (A- Harrison Davis) knotted it up.
The second period was more Merrill. Medford jumped ahead 2-1 on a Cole Quednow score just 18 seconds into the frame, but the Bluejays forged ahead to 3-2 behind two more power play goals. Swiechowski put it home from in front of the net after strong work behind it from Hoffmann and a pass from Matt Ladewig with 8:38 elapsed. Heller scored with 13:14 gone, although Medford’s Nathan Gradberg tied it on a short-handed goal with 1:50 left.
The Jays regained the lead at 4-3 with just 38 seconds left when Lucas Kleinschmidt back-handed a power play (A-Ben Rasmussen).
“We had opportunities to bury some more goals, but fluttering shots and shots missing the net prevented that from happening,” Nelson said.
“Our power play was very good tonight, converting on three of our five opportunities. We also had four different players score goals tonight, which is a good thing. Stephen played well between the pipes again, with a save percentage just shy of 90%.”
Medford was able to take advantage of its opportunities with three goals in the third. Klayton Kree converted a PP goal (A- Quednow) 2:10 into the period, and the Raiders surged ahead 5-4 on a tally from Tyler Demulling (A- Quednow, Kree) with 5:45 gone.
The Jays furiously tried to send the game into overtime, and nearly pulled it off with 2:18 and 2:01 left, but Medford’s Carter Jamieson came up with big saves.
The Raiders found an open net with just :30 left to salt away the win.
Saves–MHS–Stephen Simon 41. Medford–Carter Jamieson 33.
Merrill did pick up a win in Thursday’s non-sanctioned game with the Stevens Point Starz on Thursday, prevailing 5-4 with a goal in the final 20 seconds. No other stats were kept for the game.
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