By Rob LaPlante
The St. Michael-Albertville boys’ hockey team had its first road test of the season last week and even though the results came away with a pair of losses, head coach Jerr Johnson was happy with some of the results.
“You never are satisfied with losing,” Johnson said. “We knew going into the season we had a tough schedule. The last couple games we didn’t come away with wins, but we are pleased with our effort and each game we know we are getting better.”
After five straight home games to open the season, the Knights opened their road schedule last Thursday with a 5-4 loss at Mound-Westonka.
The Knights scored two early goals off the sticks of senior Mike Ryan and sophomore Tyler Hayes. But a late first-period flurry by the White Hawks saw them score three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 advantage into the first intermission.
Senior David Anderson tied things 3-3 and late in the second period Ryan looked to score what would have been his second of the game, but the goal was immediately waved off.
“The referees said the net was off. We looked at replays after the game and the net was not off before the puck crossed over the line,” Johnson said. “That would have made it 4-3 heading to the third period. It was a bad break because I thought we played maybe our best game all year.”
Hunter Smith scored a power-play goal giving Mound-Westonka a 4-3 lead, but senior Cade Gamrath would tie things with an unassisted goal just 21 seconds later. The game winning goal came at 9:30 of the final period when Smith scored again, firing a wrist shot off the faceoff that eluded senior goalie Matt Borgen.
Borgen faced 31 shots in the loss and found himself even busier Saturday night when the Knights dropped a 5-3 decision to Tartan. Borgen nearly set a school record facing a career high 58 shots, stopping 53 of them.
“He was very busy and he played tremendous in the Tartan game,” Johnson said. “Early in the first period it was 1-0 and the shots at the time were 15-1 in favor of them. He gave us a chance to win.”
Tartan built a 2-0 lead but like most games this season when trailing, STMA would answer. A three-goal second period started when senior Tanner Starr scored his first goal of the season.
“Everybody’s chipping in the scoring column this year,” Johnson said. “Starr had a goal and an assist and Ryan is our leading scorer, which is a bit of a surprise. We feel we have three solid lines up front and that’s what you need to compete with good Class 2A teams like Tartan.”
Returning from a high ankle sprain, senior captain Jon Gibbs scored to even the score at 2-2 and Ryan would score his fifth goal of the season giving the Knights a 3-2 lead. Tartan’s Zach Ledman would score a late goal with 13 seconds left in period two to tie the score. Ledman and Jake Jackson scored third-period goals for the undefeated Titans (7-0) icing the win.
The Knights are in action at home this Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Delano.