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Boys' Hockey: Royals beat Red Knights on four unanswered goals

The Woodbury boys' hockey team celebrates after a Jim Heron goal cut the deficit to 3-1 in the second period of Tuesday's game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 3
Kurri Anderson wins up to take a shot on goal. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 3
Woodbury forward Zach Lanz (left) and Benilde-St. Margaret's player Ian Bahr battle for a loose puck Tuesday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)3 / 3

What a difference one goal can make.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s scored two goals early in the second period to put the Woodbury boys’ hockey team in a 3-0 deficit Tuesday during a nonconference game at Bielenberg Sports Center. While the Royals’ offense was getting scoring chances, none of those shots were finding the back of the net. That changed when Jim Heron was able to crash the Red Knights net and score Woodbury’s first goal of the game.

“It felt like we got the team back into it, got some energy going again,” Heron said of the goal. “The other lines provided right after us.”

The floodgates opened for two more goals as Woodbury tied the game at 3-3 in a span of about three minutes. Ronnie Sweeny scored on a breakaway off a Benilde-St. Margaret’s turnover at 10:05, and then Ben Wahlin was credited with a goal at 13:05 with some help by the stick of a Benilde-St. Margaret’s defender.

The final goal of the evening came in the third period when Royals defenseman Alex Stuckert launched a pass down the ice to a streaking teammate Alec Wonsmos. After skating past the Red Knights defenders, Wonsmos deked the goaltender before putting the puck in the net at 0:28 of the third period for a 4-3 Woodbury lead.

After spending years as a teammate with Stuckert, Wonsmos said he had a feeling the defenseman might try to make a long pass down the middle of the ice on the third-period goal. That is when he decided to make is break to the Red Knights’ blue line.

“We’ve got pretty good energy, in practice we sometimes do stuff like that,” Wonsmos said. “Plus, I kind of know how he plays. He does his little flick or shot down the neutral zone. I think he’s got a pretty good visual of the ice, and he saw me.”

Woodbury worked to limit Benilde-St. Margaret’s chances to tie the game once taking the 4-3 lead. The Red Knights only had one shot on goal in the third period, which was turned away by Woodbury goaltender John Conlee with less than one minute remaining in the game.

After a few close games in the past two weeks, head coach Wes Bolin had talked with the team about doing a better job protecting leads. The Royals seemed to respond.

“They kind of got the message, I think,” Bolin said. “We talked about it yesterday a lot, and they really did a good job. John really focused well, and made a huge pad save right at the end.”

Normally one of the top hockey programs in the state, Benilde-St. Margaret’s is off to a slow start this season. It dropped to a record of 2-5 after Tuesday’s loss. But the schedule has not been easy so far with losses to state-ranked Grand Rapids and Eden Prairie. Last year, the Red Knights finished 24-0-1 in the regular season before losing in the Class 2A, Section 6 tournament to Cretin-Derham Hall.

The players were happy with the opportunity to beat a school with a good hockey reputation.

“I think it was pretty big to beat Benilde,” Heron said. “Everyone wanted to do it and be able to go home and brag about it.”

Woodbury improved to a record of 6-2 with the victory. The next game on the schedule is a road contest with Mounds View Thursday afternoon in Vadnais Heights.