Boys hockey: Sluggish start plagues Ponies in tie
Despite holding a significant advantage in shots on goal, the Stillwater boys’ hockey team could only escape with one point after skating to a 1-all tie with winless Park in Thursday’s Suburban East Conference game at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.
The Ponies (1-2-1 SEC, 1-2-1) outshot Park 34-18, but Mitch Reinke’s power play goal two minutes into the third period was the only one that got past goaltender Matthew Palmquist, who finished with 33 saves — including 16 in the third period and overtime.
For Stillwater, it was a disappointing tie against a team that was outscored 26-9 in its previous four games this season, including a 10-4 loss against Roseville on Saturday.
“Before the game we told them to expect a tough game and I think they took Park for granted,” Ponies coach Phil Housley said. “Park just came off a loss to Roseville and probably had a good week of practice and wanted to redeem themselves and we took them too lightly.”
The Wolfpack (0-3-1, 0-4-1) were outshooting Stillwater until midway through the second period after taking a 1-0 lead on a power play goal at 3:47.
“We got into some penalty trouble in the first and second period and it was hard for us to get on track,” Housley said. “We certainly had opportunities to take charge of the game, but until that third period when we showed that urgency it was a battle. The sense of urgency the first half of the game wasn’t there. I’ll give credit to their goalie, he played a very good game, but we’re going to be in games where it’s tight and the goalie is playing well and we have to find a way. It might be a gritty, smash-mouth goal at the front of the net that’s going to be the difference and we have to be hungrier in front of the net.”
Stillwater hit three posts in the game and two of those came in the third period. Reinke’s lone tally came on a shot from the blue line that eluded traffic in front and the goaltender as well. Brandon Jungmann and Jake Cass were credited with the assists.
“That was the first goal we’ve scored on the power play in four games so that’s a work in progress,” Housley said. “It was just a shot down the middle from the point and the guys did a good job screening the puck.
“We missed a lot of Grade A scoring chances right in front of the net where we missed the net or the goalie made a great save. There was a lot of guys bringing a great effort, but we just have to make some tweaks so we can play a complete game and get the trust factor with the players. It’s not a panic situation, but we have to make some changes and have to explain what their role is again and their expectations. The No. 1 thing is effort, and I thought for the most part we had a lot of great effort.”
Colton Anderson finished with 17 saves in goal for the Ponies, who host conference unbeaten Roseville (2-0-2, 2-2-2) on Saturday. This marked Stillwater’s third game that has been decided by a goal or less and the Ponies are 0-2-1 in those contests.
“The disappointing thing is that we left a point on the table in our conference standings,” Housley said. “Every point is going to be important and it’s going to be tight so you look down at the end of the year and that could be the difference. We definitely have to come prepared and ready to start the game.
“The frustrating thing is that we’ve played four conference games and we’ve won one. We should be 3-1, but that’s not the case and we have to continue to work and get prepared in practice. Roseville is rolling right now and we’re going to have our hands full.”
Park 0 1 0 0 — 1
Stillwater 0 0 1 0 — 1
First period — No scoring.
Second period — 1. NA (NA) pp, 3:47.
Third period — 1. St, Mitch Reinke (Brandon Jungmann, Jake Cass) pp, 2:17.
Overtime — No scoring.
Penalties — Par, 7-14:00; St, 6-12:00.
Saves — Par (Matthew Palmquist) 7-10-14-2—33; St (Colton Anderson) 9-4-4—17.