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Boys Hockey: Royals go 1-1 in season-opening tournament

Woodbury forward Max Meyer carries the puck into the offensive zone during Saturday's game against Hudson. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 2
Senior forward Alex Sanchez chases a loose puck into the Hudson zone during Woodbury's home tournament game on Saturday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 2

A quick start for the Woodbury boys hockey team got swept away during the championship round of its season-opening home tournament on Saturday.

The Royals controlled play in the first period of the game, outshooting opposing Hudson 15-5.

Momentum quickly shifted the other way in the second period. Hudson tallied two goals and held a 16-6 advantage in shots. Hudson rode the effort to a 4-0 to win and a first place finish in the tournament.

Afterward, the Woodbury players said they noticed the shift in momentum after the first period.

“We were losing the small battles, and we weren’t getting a whole lot of shots,” senior Ben Wahlin said. “We weren’t getting pucks deep, and we weren’t winning battles.”

Aaron Grounds and Cole Danielson scored Hudson’s second-period goals, with Dan Lieneman and George Nuutinen also scoring in the third.

Head coach Wes Bolin was happy with the first period of play against a skilled Hudson team, ranked as one of the best in the state of Wisconsin. The Raiders finished as the runner-up at the Wisconsin state tournament last season, falling in the championship game to Appleton East 2-1.

“I tell you, that first period of hockey that we played tonight against them was as entertaining of a period as you’ve seen at Bielenberg in a long time,” Bolin said. “Play was up-and-down the ice, and we had some great scoring chances.”

The Royals started the tournament with a 7-2 win over Chanhassen on Friday. The Royals only led 3-2 after two periods but broke out for four goals in the third. Alec Wonsmos led the Royals by scoring three goals in the game. Jim Heron, Lucas Erickson, Alex Stuckert and Max Meyer each also scored once.

“We’re going to be competitive, that’s for sure,” Bolin said. “We’ve got some kids who can score.”

Defense could be key to Royals’ season

The Woodbury boys hockey team graduated about 11 seniors from last year’s team.

Bolin said the Royals are most inexperienced among its defensemen after graduating three seniors from the group last year. So far, he is optimistic with the adjustments the varsity newcomers have made.

“Catching up with the speed of the varsity forwards that are attacking you is a different game, and you have to be ready for it and on your toes,” Bolin said. “It’s going to take some time for the kids to grow into that. But they have done a nice job so far.”

Bolin has been optimistic with the play of goaltender John Conlee, who missed part of last season with a concussion.

After graduating 11 players from last season, the Royals were happy to have the opportunity to get familiar with each other at the holiday tournament.

“The first couple games here is nice for the younger guys to get in there and get used to it,” senior Lucas Erickson said. “We’ve still got a good core senior group here.”