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Boys' Hockey: East Ridge halts losing streak

East Ridge used a combination of solid goaltending and a few plays to end a five-game losing streak with a 2-0 win against Orono Friday.

The Raptors had come close to winning in a few of their most recent games. They lost overtime games to Roseville 2-1 on Dec. 17 and 5-4 to Cretin-Derham Hall on Dec. 22.

So head coach Wes Walz was happy to see the players get rewarded with a win.

“It was nice for our kids to finally get rewarded for playing well,” Walz said. “I really think our team is starting to play better, and I think our fortunes are going to start to turn as long as we continue to play the way we’ve played.”

East Ridge goaltender Nick Stearns made 36 saves in goal to preserve the shutout victory. The Raptors were outshot 36-25 in the game, but Tanner Stafne and Carter VanDenEinde each scored goals in the first and second periods in the win.

Walz credited Stearns for his game-changing performance in goal.

“He played very, very solid,” Walz said. “He was out on top of the crease. He looked very confident.”

It was East Ridge’s first win since defeating Hastings 5-3 on Dec. 1. Orono dropped to a record of 6-3 with the loss.

Walz said the two teams decided to schedule a game after he spoke with Orono head coach Mark Parrish over the summer. Both Parrish and Walz are former teammates from the Minnesota Wild.

“They are pretty good,” Walz said about Orono. “Mark Parrish coaches them, so they are a very detailed team. They play very, very hard. It was a great game. It could have been a one-goal game either way.”

East Ridge improved to a mark of 2-7-1 with Friday’s win. The Raptors will next play Park in a home Suburban East Conference game on Saturday at Cottage Grove Ice Arena.

Now that the Raptors have broken their losing streak, Walz hopes to keep seeing progress over the next two months.

“The most important thing is to make sure you get better as the season goes on, and try to be playing your best hockey at the end of the season when it matters the most,” Walz said.