Two-goal first period leads Huskies past Rockets
Coming off a thriller 3-2 victory in overtime against Northfield on Tuesday, the Owatonna boys hockey team was back in action on its home ice against Rochester John Marshall.
Tuesday’s overtime hero Tyler Wencl was looking to make it back-to-back wins for the Huskies.
Scoring the game’s first goal, Wencl led the Owatonna Huskies (10-8, 7-4 Big Nine) scoring surge in the first period to down the Rockets 4-1 Thursday at the Four Seasons Centre in a Big Nine Conference tilt.
"I thought we played a smart game tonight," commented Huskies head coach Josh Storm. "I thought we had good energy in the first, thought the second was not our best period, but we kind fought through. We're short right now; got alot of key injuries, but alot of guys stepped up today. Between (Luke) Kubicek playing his first real minutes of varsity hockey in a big Section 1AA matchup like that; Landon Thyrnau settping up, all of our defensemen stepping up, it was a great day and I'm really proud of our guys."
Both teams would start the game by trading possessions in the offensive zone. The Rockets fired the game’s first shot on goal just a minute into the period and then the Huskies started a grueling possession of their own, holding the zone for nearly two minutes. Despite the early presence within each opposing team’s zone, few shots actually reached the net. In fact, through the first 10 minutes of play, Owatonna held a slim 5-4 advantage in shots on goal.
The Huskies’ sixth shot wouldn’t miss.
After penetrating the offensive zone, Owatonna’s Carter Broton chipped the puck to a circling Adam Rehman. Rather than attempting the reach-around, Rehman fired a centering pass to a charging Wencl for the game’s first goal. In the last two games, Wencl has now scored four goals. Coach Storm noted that this was the first time that Broton and Wencl have been on the same line together.
“I’ve been keeping Tyler (Wencl) and Carter (Broton) apart for a while; you know some of the injuries brought them together because it just gave us more depth,” noted Storm. “That first goal was pretty special today. That was a heckuva pass from all three of those guys. It’s hard to separate them when they play like that.”
Just a minute later, Owatonna extended the lead to 2-0 after Nick Smith found his brother Nate, who then fired a laser to the far corner of the net.
The Huskies would have a minor letdown in the second period as Rochester managed to dominate the offensive zone, firing 11 shots on net. One of those 11, one would find the back of the net after Jason McGinn fired a shot from the point at the 9:34-mark of the second period. The one-point contest would last roughly four minutes as Broton found the back of the net for his first of two goals at the 12:51-mark of the period to reclaim a two-goal lead. Broton would also add the game’s final goal in the third period.
The second period was the only time in the contest that Owatonna would not hold the shots on goal advantage. Much of the reason for the lackluster performance in the second was due to the Huskies having to work on the penalty kill. Storm did mention however, that the shots on goal margin could have been far greater if not for the effort to block shots on the penalty kill.
“I challenge to find any team in the state of Minnesota that blocks more shots than us. It’s a mentality and our guys have completely bought in,” he added. “We got guys diving in front of pucks all the time and it’s a special thing. These guys cared and they want to win.”
The Huskies blocked nearly 15 shots, shutting down all four power play chances for the Rockets.
After coming off a 39-save performance against Northfield, Jacob Dub put together another strong performance in net stopping 22 of the 21 shots he faced. Storm mentioned that what has stuck out to him about his goaltender is the aggressiveness to contend the shooter by staying at the top of the crease.
Owatonna will be on the road Saturday for a Big Nine Conference matchup against Rochester Mayo.