Seven years, seven titles for Tiger hockey
For seven years, boys hockey has been a conference sport in the Middle Border Conference.
And for seven years, the New Richmond boys have reigned supreme in the MBC.
The Tigers locked up their seventh consecutive MBC title last Thursday by defeating Baldwin-Woodville, 6-3.
The game was tied 2-2 heading into the third period. The Tigers acted decisively to finish off the win, scoring four straight goals during the third period.
The Tigers went ahead 3-2 when Dom Peterson scored three minutes into the third period. The Tigers extended the lead to 4-2 when Taylor Moening scored his first varsity goal two minutes later.
Joe Bowar and Jamie Kelly scored late in the period, before B-W netted a goal with 11 seconds remaining in the game. For Kelly this was the first varsity goal for the Tiger senior.
Bowar had also scored in the second period for the Tigers. Jared Singerhouse, just back from an injury, scored the only goal of the first period. Tanner Milliron got the win in goal for the Tigers, stopping 27 of 30 shots.
Tiger coach Adam Swanda said the team did a good job of playing energetically to start the third period to overwhelm the Blackhawks.
"Baldwin did a nice job, they just didn't have the legs to stay with us," Swanda said.
Swanda was pleased at the way Kelly and Moening were able to get their varsity goals. He has been prodding players to battle in front of the net and both players got their goals because they won battles for pucks in front of the B-W goal.
The Tigers finished the MBC season with a 5-1 record. They have lost four times in the seven years of MBC hockey. The win over Baldwin-Woodville lifted the Tigers' overall record to 8-8, the first time they've reached the .500 level this season.
On Saturday the Tigers showed what they are capable of doing when they nearly upset River Falls, losing 3-2 at the New Richmond Sports Center.
River Falls is currently ranked third in the state in boys hockey. By playing a strong puck possession game and controlling the action in front of their own goal, the Tigers were able to give the Wildcats all they could handle.
"We put together one of our better team games, playing within our system," Swanda said. "I thought we were a tough team to play against. We took away a couple of their strengths."
River Falls leading scorer Ross Anderson got the only goal in the first period of Saturday's game. River Falls went ahead 2-0 on the first of two goals by Dylan Dock. The Tigers cut the lead to 2-1 with two minutes left in the second period. Josh Leavens chipped the puck out of the defensive zone. Singerhouse won a race to the puck, taking off to score on a breakaway.
Dock scored again at the 3:38 mark of the third period. The Tigers scored at the 8:18 mark when Leavens scored from a scrum in front of the River Falls net.
The Tigers put on heavy pressure in several spurts during the final minutes of the game, but couldn't get the tying goal. Swanda said River Falls did an excellent job of blocking Tiger shots before they could reach the net.
The seeding meeting for the WIAA sectional tournament bracket was held Sunday, with the Tigers receiving the fifth seed. That means the Tigers will play at Menomonie, the fourth seed, on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m.
The Tigers and Menomonie were being closely considered for the fourth seed in recent weeks. When Menomonie upset Superior last week, it was enough to sway several coaches to vote for Menomonie instead of New Richmond for the fourth seed.
The winner of the game between New Richmond and Menomonie will likely play at Superior on Tuesday, Feb. 24.
Before the Tigers start tournaments, they have a three-game weekend to get through.
On Thursday the Tigers play at Hudson. On Friday and Saturday the Tigers will play in a tournament at Rhinelander. The Tigers will face Rhinelander at 7 p.m. on Friday. That's followed by a game against Monona Grove at 5 p.m. on Saturday.