Boys' Hockey: Park, East Ridge tie after back-and-forth game
East Ridge twice looked like it was ready to break through for its first Suburban East Conference win of the season against Park at Cottage Grove Ice Arena Saturday.
But both times, the Wolfpack had an answer.
The Raptors held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period and later grabbed a 3-2 lead. But each time a tying goal was found, and after a back-and-forth overtime period both teams were forced to settle for a 3-3 tie.
After watching his team twice hold third period leads, East Ridge head coach Wes Walz was quick to credit Park’s effort.
“I thought both teams played really hard,” Walz said. “If we would have won by a goal, I didn’t think we were better than them. I thought Park outplayed us today.”
The final eight minutes of the third period were a flurry of goals with East Ridge leading 2-1. Park's Matthew Moreland scored to tie the game at the 10:30 mark. About two minutes later, Tanner Tasler answered with another East Ridge goal for a 3-2 lead.
But before fans could get back into their seats, Zakk Morse responded 30 seconds later with a goal off an East Ridge turnover to tie the game at 3-3.
The Park offense had plenty of chances on the rush in overtime to score the game-winning goal, including one shot that rang off the post. But they were not able to capitalize.
“We got some energy, and right after that we started outplaying them,” Morse said about his team’s play following the game-tying goal. “We just couldn’t put it into the net. We’ve got to learn how to score. That’s the way it has been all year.”
Park controlled play most of the first period and took a 1-0 lead into the locker room with a goal by Tony Brings. The Wolfpack held the advantage in shots 10-4.
With the stands full in a rivalry game between two schools just five miles apart, Walz speculated that it took some time for the Raptors to settle down.
“A lot of these kids aren’t used to playing in front of a full building, full rinks like this,” Walz said. “Sometimes the kids get spooked a little bit. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time for them to find their legs.”
The Raptors had a bounce-back second period, with Nick Basten and Jaxon Bombardir scoring goals to take a 2-1 lead.
Saturday was the latest elusive game where an opportunity to get a conference win slipped away from East Ridge. It was the second time East Ridge has tied a conference opponent this season, with the other being a 0-0 game with Forest Lake on Dec. 8. The Raptors also have three one-goal losses in SEC play.
The Raptors are looking for improvements on both ends of the ice to start winning conference games.
“We need to lock it up better on D,” Tasler said. “We know we had a chance to win. We just made a couple of mistakes. We couldn’t get the puck out.”
East Ridge’s conference record is now 0-6-2.
The Wolfpack continues to have similar luck as Saturday’s tie brought their conference record to 1-5-1. Park also lost a 4-2 game against Cretin-Derham Hall in a home game Thursday.
As was the case in many instances Saturday, head coach Jay Moser said the Wolfpack have struggled to take advantage of scoring chances on offense.
“It has kind of been our MO,” Moser said. “I thought for two periods we outplayed them, and we make a few mistakes, and the other team capitalizes on it. We need three times as many chances to score, it seems, as the other team. And that’s not a long-term recipe for success.”
East Ridge is scheduled to play home games against nonconference opponents Rosemount Tuesday and Bloomington Jefferson Thursday to start next week. Mounds View will also visit Cottage Grove Ice Arena Saturday.
Park is expected to play one conference game next week at White Bear Lake Thursday.