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Woodbury re-claims SEC lead

Jason Eddy seems happy enough with Woodbury's standing as the Royals re-claimed first place in the Suburban East Conference with four games remaining in the regular season after a come-from-behind 5-4 victory at Hastings on Thursday night. Staff Photo by Tom Carothers.

A thrilling Thursday night at Hastings combined with some good news from Saint Paul has placed the Woodbury boys hockey team back in the catbird seat of the Suburban East Conference.

The Royals rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to earn a 5-4 victory, while Forest Lake -- who ended Woodbury's 2010 unbeaten streak last weekend -- won, 3-2, at Cretin-Derham Hall to hoist WHS back into sole possession of first place in the league standings.

"It was a good rally," Woodbury coach Wes Bolin said. "A good night."

Hastings took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period before Jonathan Gehrt drew the Royals even with a power play goal, assisted by Walker Hyland and Connor Delaney, at 14:02 of the opening frame.

Hastings appeared to seize control of the contest with three second period goals -- two of which were short-handed -- as the hosts held a 4-1 lead until Max Gaede claimed a score for the Royals, assisted by Mike Mezzano, with just 44 seconds remaining in the middle interval.

Suddenly wresting momentum from the Raiders, Woodbury made its move in the third period beginning with a goal from Ty Nowicki, assisted by Hyland and Gaede, at 2:41 to cut Hastings' advantage to just one.

Not stopping there, Scott Carlson again knotted the count with a goal, assisted by Andrew Shock and Gehrt, that made the score 4-all with just over 10 minutes to play.

As it began to look like the two teams might require an extra session to settle matters, Hyland delivered the Royals a victory with a tally assisted by Mezzano and Carlson at 14:23 to put Woodbury in the lead after more than 48 minutes of intense action under the arched roof of the Hastings Civic Arena.

Royals goaltender Patrick Moore clinched the triumph with the last saves of his 34-stop night as Woodbury celebrated its 12th win of the 2009-10 season.

The victory became even sweeter as word came to the Royals that the Rangers had claimed a 3-2 overtime victory on their home ice at the Forest Lake Sports Center within the hour to drop the purple-and-gold Raiders (14-7 overall, 10-4 SEC) from first to third place behind Woodbury (12-7-2, 10-2-2) and White Bear Lake (13-7-1, 10-3-1).

With four games remaining in the regular season, including a home game against Mounds View this Saturday night, the Royals control their own destiny as they seek their third-straight conference championship.

If Woodbury wins out, the title belongs to them. However, one slip opens the doors to the Bears.

The Royals travel to Roseville (6-13-1, 4-9-1) for their final road game of the regular season next Thursday before hosting White Bear and Cretin at the Bielenberg Sports Center on Feb. 13 and 18, respectively.