Boys hockey: Stillwater notches first victory of the season

Gazette photo by Stuart Groskreutz
Stillwater’s Tyler Fitzsimmons is congratulated by teammates after scoring a second-period goal for the Ponies during Saturday’s 4-1 Suburban East Conference boys’ hockey victory over Woodbury at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.

Looking for a fresh start in its home opener, the Stillwater boys’ hockey team delivered its best performance of the young season while dispatching Woodbury 4-1 in Saturday’s Suburban East Conference game at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.

After suffering one-goal losses in each of their first two games, the Ponies (1-2-0 SEC, 1-2-0) celebrated Parents Night with their first victory.

“It was really important,” Stillwater coach Phil Housley said. “After losing two conference games and coming back to our own rink, it was valiant effort by our guys.”

Stillwater wasted little time jumping out to a 1-0 lead as Jon Peterson assisted on brother Nick Peterson’s goal just 1:27 into the first period. Devin Cates followed with another goal to give the Ponies a two-goal cushion before Jack Glaeser’s power play tally for Woodbury trimmed the deficit to 2-1.

The Ponies were outshot 13-9 in the second period, but Tyler Fitzsimmons scored on a pass from the Cates in the corner at 10:07 for a 3-1 lead. Zach Fedie added another goal for the Ponies with five minutes remaining for a 4-1 advantage.

“We got pucks to the net,” Housley said. “What we’ve focused on that since Day 1 is getting as many pucks to the net as possible and guys will be going there for rebounds and crashing the nets. It’s pretty simple. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective.”

The Ponies eliminated some of the costly mistakes that plagued them in narrow losses to conference front-runner Hastings and Forest Lake.

“There’s definitely progress, game to game,” Housley said. “We should have won that game against Forest Lake, but we had some lapses in our forecheck. We made some adjustments (Friday) and it was good to see they made those adjustments and just being positionally sound when we don’t have (the puck) so we can get it back. They came to play tonight so give our guys credit because they worked hard and they made those little mistakes against Hastings and Forest Lake,  but not tonight.”

It wasn’t all good news for the Ponies as senior forward Chad Smith suffered a wrist injury in the game — the extent of which was not immediately known following the game — but senior captain Nick Anderson is scheduled to return this week from an injury suffered during the football season.

“He should be ready to go and that’s great news,” Housley said. “He’s going to provide more depth at a forward.”

Colton Anderson finished with 25 saves in goal for the Ponies, including a breakaway late in the third period.

“That was a little lapse on the defense, but you’re going to have to count on your goaltender to make some big saves at key times and that was good to see Colton step up like that,” Housley said.

The coach also spared some praise for the defensemen.

“I thought the defense moved the puck quickly, they didn’t hold on to it,” Housley said. “They got it up to the forwards and then we were able to gain lines and establish a forecheck and that’s got to be our game. We’ve got some good D back there that can move the puck and if they make quicker decisions then the forwards will have more time with it.”

n Also on Saturday, the Stillwater JV team improved to 3-0 with a 9-1 victory over the Royals. Peyton Gosso delivered four goals — including a power play goal and two shorthanded goals — while John Heddle provided four assists for the Ponies, who also received 12 saves from goaltender Josh Benson. Stillwater held a 29-13 advantage in shots on goal.

n The Stillwater boys’ hockey team are encouraging fans to wear their ugly holiday sweater to Saturday’s game against Roseville for a chance to win a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card.

The team is also accepting donations of new books for children ages birth through 6 years old, which will be donated to the Stillwater Family Center. The team will also be collecting gift cards for teenagers (Target, coffee shops, etc.) that will be donated to Community Thread’s Holiday Program and given as Christmas gifts to deserving teens in the community.

 

Woodbury            1            0            0            —            1

Stillwater            2            1            1            —            4

 

First period — 1. St, Nick Peterson (Jon Peterson) 1:27; 2. Devin Cates (unassisted) NA; 1. Wo, Jack Glaeser (Geno Demike, Ford Pendleton) pp, 8:58.

Second period — 3. St, Tyler Fitzsimmons (Cates) 10:07.

Third period — 4. St, Zach Fedie (unassisted) 12:09.

Penalties — Wo, 0; St, 3-6:00.

Saves — Wo (Connor Kwiatkowski) 8-8-6—22; St (Colton Anderson) 6-13-6—25.

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