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East Ridge falls in boys hockey debut

Ensconced in golden sweaters, the East Ridge boys hockey team took to the ice for its inaugural game on Thursday night in Cottage Grove. Staff Photo by Patrick Johnson.

It'll be an opening night not soon forgotten.

The East Ridge boys hockey team opened its inaugural season with a 4-2 loss to St. Francis and goals-scored state record holder Joey Benik on Thursday, Dec. 3 at Cottage Grove Ice Arena.

With an already festive atmosphere aided by presence of Benik and Fox Sports North, which televised the game statewide, East Ridge excited its home fans early, jumping out to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period, but had its advantage erased with four straight goals by the Fighting Saints over the last 21 minutes of the game.

Benik, who set a Minnesota record with 65 goals scored in 24 games played as a junior last season, netted three goals -- including the game-winner -- as St. Francis (2-0) stole a historic victory from the Raptors' talons.

The Saints sniper put home the game-winning goal with 4:10 remaining in the game on a one-timer from teammate Eric Iverson just after East Ridge sophomore goaltender Andrew McDonough had stonewalled the St. Cloud State recruit with consecutive glove saves.

Just over three minutes later Benik, who has seven goals and eight points through two games this year, iced things with 54.8 seconds remaining on an open net goal after East Ridge (0-1) pulled McDonough in hope of sending things to overtime.

East Ridge junior forward Zach Edwards scored the first goal in team history -- 8:24 into the game to give the Raptors a 1-0 lead.

Then, just a little over three minutes later, East Ridge junior forward Alex Idso made it 2-0 in favor of the Raptors with his unassisted tally with 13:40 remaining in the second period.

However, after that it was all St. Francis.

Next, East Ridge hosts intra-city rival Woodbury on Saturday, Dec. 5 at Cottage Grove Ice Arena. Woodbury (2-1), the defending Suburban East Conference champion, is ranked 10th in the state.