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Boys' Hockey: Royals score four straight in win vs. East Ridge

Luke Swenson carries the puck inside the East Ridge blue line on Saturday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 3
Ben Wahlin winds up to take a shot during Saturday's game against East Ridge. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 3
Tyler Johnson carries the puck up the ice for East Ridge on Saturday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina.)3 / 3

The excitement was plastered onto the faces of the Woodbury boys’ hockey team’s players after the horn sounded on a 4-3 win over crosstown rival East Ridge on Saturday.

Woodbury scored four consecutive goals to take a 4-1 lead in the third period of the Suburban East Conference matchup at Cottage Grove Ice Arena. Although the Raptors added two late goals to create some pressure, the Royals still ended the game by celebrating a victory with members of their large student section on the way back to the locker room.

“It’s a great, intercity rivalry,” Woodbury senior Lucas Erickson said. “It’s one you circle on the calendar every year.”

Four different Woodbury players scored goals after East Ridge’s Gunnar Edlund put the Raptors ahead 1-0 early.

Alex Stuckert tied the game in the first period on a shot from the blue line. 

The Royals had a game-changing second period as they scored twice and put 16 shots on goal. Erickson scored on a scrum in front of the Raptors’ net to make it 2-1, and a minute later Kurri Anderson collected a rebound and added a goal of his own.

Ben Wahlin made it four straight goals early in the third period on the penalty kill after he forced a turnover and put it in the back of the net. The goal was a reward for Wahlin after being credited with two assists.

Head coach Wes Bolin credited the Royals for playing focused hockey after watching them score four straight goals. It was Woodbury’s first win against East Ridge since a 1-0 victory on Feb. 1, 2014. Those teams also tied 1-1 on Jan. 31, 2015.

“It’s big for these kids that they won the game,” Bolin said. “We haven’t had a lot of success against them the past few years. It was nice that we scored a couple of goals.”

The Woodbury players credited strong puck possession game in the East Ridge zone for helping the offense Saturday. Woodbury outshot East Ridge 31-18.

“I really liked the play down low, lots of little battles we won,” Erickson said. “We really pounded them in shots the first two periods.”

Woodbury improved to 1-1 in the Suburban East Conference with the win. The Royals will play only one game next week at Park on Thursday.

Raptors still seek first SEC victory

East Ridge battled back from a 4-1 deficit to make it a game Saturday thanks to two late goals by Carter VanDenEinde.

The Raptors’ captain scored goals at the 4:12 and 14:54 marks of the third period to reduce Woodbury’s deficit to 4-3. They pulled the goaltender with less than two minutes left but could not force a tie.

VanDenEinde was quick to credit his teammates for not quitting and helping score twice after trailing by three goals.

“It just shows team effort,” VanDenEinde said. “I’m not just a do-it-by-myself player. It takes all the teammates around me. It was just nice battling back and showing that we have heart.”

The Raptors are still searching for their first victory in Suburban East Conference play. A difficult schedule has not helped out early in the season.

East Ridge is set to play two of the better teams in the state next week. Nonconference opponent Lakeville South is set to play at Cottage Grove Ice Arena on Tuesday before the Raptors hit the road Thursday to play Stillwater. Stillwater, which defeated East Ridge 3-1 earlier this season, is the No. 2 ranked Class 2A team in the state.

“We haven’t had really many easy games, so it’s been a bit of a grind so far at the beginning of the year,” head coach Wes Walz said.

Roseville will also play East Ridge at Cottage Grove Ice Arena on Saturday, Dec. 17.