The Raider boys' hockey team faced a pair of stiff challenges in its first two games of the season last week, and first-year coach Brooks Lockwood said they passed the test.
The Raiders knocked off Red Wing 5-3 in their season opener last Thursday at Gornick Arena before playing Superior tough on the road in a 5-4 loss to the second-ranked Spartans on Saturday.
"We learned a lot about our team," Lockwood said. "I wanted to see how we dealt with adversity and I thought in both games we dealt with that well. Whether we were tied or down, they regained that energy.
The Raiders came out flying against Red Wing and took a 1-0 lead four minutes in when sophomore Parker Shefveland dug the puck out from behind the net and centered it to junior Jack Cernohous, who banged it home.
Shefveland picked up another assist on sophomore Adam Lipps' first varsity goal at the 8:27 mark of the first to stake Hudson to a 2-0 lead.
The Wingers cut the Raider lead in half with a power play goal at the 3:44 mark of the second period. Five minutes later, senior Michael Hommes picked off a pass at his own blue line, skated in and fired a hard shot over the Winger goalie's left shoulder to extend the Raider lead to 3-1.
Red Wing made it a 3-2 game late in the second period before sophomore Wyatt Dove and freshman Carter Schuett scored their first varsity goals less than two minutes apart early in the third period to make it a 5-2 game. Lipps picked up an assist on the goal by Dove while Schuett's score was unassisted.
The Wingers scored their second power play goal with just under seven minutes remaining to make the final 5-3.
Raider senior goaltender Josh Mattis made 25 saves as the Wingers outshot the Raiders' 28-23.
"We came out with a lot of energy," Lockwood said. "I think having the home crowd helped get the kids going and the coaching staff really liked what we saw. A lot of guys got their first varsity points; it's nice to have the young guys step up."
Saturday in Superior the Raiders struck first with a power play goal by senior Emerson Korum, assisted by Hommes, at the 6:34 mark of the first. The Spartans tied it up with a power play goal of their own at the 10:35 mark and took a 2-1 lead two minutes later.
Superior extended its lead to 3-1 at the 4:25 mark of the second and made it a 4-1 game with a power play goal four minutes later.
Hudson cut the gap to 4-2 when Hommes poked in a rebound at the 15:21 mark, with seniors August Nuutinen and Daniel Tripicchio assisting, but the Spartans answered just over a minute later to regain a three-goal lead.
Hudson got within 5-3 on a goal by Dove with 6:03 remaining, assisted by Tripicchio, and cut the Spartan lead to 5-4 on Korum's second goal of the game, assisted by Nuutinen and Hommes, with 3:24 left.
Despite the loss, Lockwood said he was pleased with his team's effort against the state's No. 2 ranked team.
"We were a play away from tying it," he said. "It was good to see the kids bounce back."
Mattis finished with 23 saves as the Spartans outshot the Raiders' 28-25.
Hudson will open Big Rivers Conference play Thursday, Dec. 6, at Menomonie before visiting Somerset for a nonconference battle Saturday, Dec. 8, at 2 p.m. They return home to host Rice Lake Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.