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East Ridge boys hockey: Raptors edge rival Royals 4-2

East Ridge sophomore Jarrod Ronquillo tries to get a shot off against Woodbury Dec. 21 at Bielenberg Arena in Woodbury. The Raptors won 4-2. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt)

The East Ridge boys hockey team closed out 2013 with a big win.

East Ridge snapped a two-game losing streak Dec. 21 with a 4-2 victory over intra-district and Suburban East Conference rival Woodbury at Bielenberg Arena in Woodbury.

The Raptors got plenty of production from their top line as Jake Nickoloff, Kevin Donohue and Derek Hammer all scored at least goal in a much-needed offensive outburst after struggling against Forest Lake in their previous game.

“I talked to them beforehand and I kind of challenged them,” East Ridge head coach Doug Long said. “I said, ‘You guys will get goals, I know that, but you know what, you’ve got to play really good defensively. I’m going to challenge you guys defensively to keep them off the board.’ They did a really nice job. They didn’t give up a goal.”

Donohue scored a pair of goals, including a short-handed goal to pad East Ridge’s lead in the second period. Donohue’s goal proved the game-winner when buried a shot on a pass from Nickoloff.

Donohue’s first goal came in front of the net in a scrum to give the Raptors (3-5, 3-3 SEC) a 2-1 lead after Woodbury’s Tristan Mayer scored 1 minute, 43 seconds into the second period.

Nickoloff energized East Ridge early on and got rewarded with 49 seconds to play on an assist from Hammer off the faceoff.

“He came to play (Saturday),” Long said. “He had his wheels greased, ready to go. He can be a catalyst to this team.”

Nickoloff’s goal capped off a dominate first period for the Raptors where they outshot the Royals (4-6, 1-6 SEC) 14-4. East Ridge outshot Woodbury 33-29 for the game.

Mayer rejuvenated the Royals in the second period with a wrap-around goal. The Raptors outshot Woodbury 12-11 in the second and the Royals went on to outshot East Ridge 14-7 in the third period.

Nick Sheak tallied a power-play goal at 13:26 of the third period to cut it to 3-2 temporarily. Hammer’s empty-net goal with 12 seconds left sealed the victory.

Hammer also won a faceoff late in the game when Woodbury had pulled its goalie for the man-advantage.

Long called it likely the biggest play of the game and said Hammer won about 75 percent of his faceoffs in the game against the Royals.

Woodbury finished 1-for-6 on the power play.

Tyler Guck made 27 saves for the win while Austen Macalus stopped 29 shots.

The Raptors face Eagan Jan. 2 at Cottage Grove Ice Arena.

 - Nick Gerhardt