Boys hockey: Ponies fall short against SEC champs

Stillwater defenseman Blake Kohanek fires a shot towards the net during the third period of Thursday’s Suburban East Conference boys’ hockey game against Cretin-Derham Hall at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

Stillwater defenseman Blake Kohanek fires a shot towards the net during the third period of Thursday’s Suburban East Conference boys’ hockey game against Cretin-Derham Hall at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

There’s nothing flashy about the Cretin-Derham Hall boys’ hockey team, but the Raiders scored two power play goals and dispatched Stillwater in a workman-like fashion 3-1 on Thursday at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.

The Raiders (14-4-0 SEC, 16-8-1) had already wrapped up the Suburban East Conference championship, but finished off their winning campaign with another victory to sweep the season series against Stillwater. The Ponies (6-10-2, 9-13-2), who finished eighth in the league standings, will try to snap a three-game losing streak when it hosts defending state champion and No. 2-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Saturday in the regular season finale. Seedings for the Section 4AA tournament will be announced on Sunday.

Sophomore Zack Eder-Zdechlik sends a shot past a Cretin-Derham Hall player in the third period.

Sophomore Zack Eder-Zdechlik sends a shot past a Cretin-Derham Hall player in the third period.

Cretin-Derham Hall carried a 2-1 lead into the final period and Patrick Cullen scored just 38 seconds in to provide a two-goal cushion, which was more than enough support for goaltender Trent Jancze, who finished with 14 saves.

“We just didn’t think shot coming across the blue line,” Stillwater coach Phil Housley said. “We got away from what we talked about and what made us successful recently, which is getting everything to the net — and when we had opportunities, we didn’t hit the net. You’re not going to win too many games with 14 shots on net.”

The Raiders jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Levi Bailey’s power play goal at 5:46 of the first period. Jon Heddle answered for the Ponies less than two minutes later, but they were outshot 7-2 in the second period and fell behind 2-1 on a power play goal by Kendall Bolen-Porter.

The Raiders took advantage on that five-minute power play in the second with an approach Housley wants to see more of from his team.

“They jumped on a wrister. It was just a harmless wrister into the net and that’s what we’ve got to get back to is not looking for the perfect shot or looking to score.”

By comparison, Stillwater managed just six shots on goal in the third period despite skating for seven minutes on the power play and two more with an extra attacker after pulling the goalie. Not having injured defenseman Mitch Reinke on the power play didn’t help matters.

“We have to win special teams battles,” Housley said. “They get two power play goals and we have nothing to show for it. We’re going to have to generate some more offense and we have to concentrate even more defensively. It seems defense creates offense and if you look at Cretin, they give up the least amount of goals but are also at the forefront for most goals. It rings true, if we can take care of our own end, things get generated from that area.”

The Ponies will have an opportunity to enter the postseason on a positive with a strong showing against the highly regarded Red Knights on Saturday.

“I still think this is going to make us a better hockey team,” Housley said. “It’s testing us mentally and we’re facing some adversity, but this is a good game to see where we stand and it’s going to be a great game to test us. I just want to play a solid game.”

 

C-D Hall 1 1 1 — 3

Stillwater 1 0 0 — 1

 

First period — 1. C-DH, Levi Bailey (Patrick Cullen, Derek Olmschenk) 5:46; 1. St, Jon Heddle (Tyler Fitzsimmons) 7:09.

Second period — 2. C-DH, Kendall Bolen-Porter (Olmschenk) pp, 4:49.

Third period — 3. C-DH, Cullen (Nick Reis, Bolen-Porter) :38.

Penalties — C-DH, 4-11:00; St, 4-11:00.

Saves — C-DH (Trent Jancze) 6-2-6—14; St (Colton Anderson) 4-6-7—17.

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