Boys Hockey: Raiders win fifth straight
Hudson boys' hockey assistant coach Dean Talafous described the Raiders as an average team that can be very good when they work hard and not so good when they don't.
They must be working very hard lately.
The Raiders posted their fifth straight win Tuesday night, topping Eau Claire Memorial 5-3 in a rematch of last year's state championship game. Hudson fell behind 3-2 early in the third period before scoring the final three goals, two off the stick of junior Nolan Wagner, to improve to 8-3-1 overall, 4-2-0 in Big Rivers Conference play.
Since splitting their first six games of the season the two-time defending state champion Raiders have gone 5-0-1 in their last six. Head coach Brooks Lockwood said that's a testament to Talafous' description of the team.
“I think that's 110 percent where we're at,” Lockwood said. “We're not good enough on our bad nights to just show up. At times the last couple of years maybe we were; we relied a lot on our heavy guys. But this year we don't have as many of them so its more about the younger guys and getting them up to speed. But we're getting there.”
Those younger guys accounted for four of Hudson's five goals Tuesday night, including all three in the third period.
After Memorial scored on its fifth power 1 minute, 19 seconds into the third period to take a 3-2 lead, Wagner rifled a shot from the top of the right circle to tie it up at the 6:22 mark.
Less than three minutes later sophomore Sam Ross flipped a rebound of a Harvey Dove shot over Memorial goalie Kyler Strenke's left shoulder to for the go-ahead score. Wagner scored his second goal just six seconds into a Raider power play with just under seven minutes remaining to make the final 5-3.
Lockwood said the Raiders have gone through some growing pains this season, but he was proud of how they stepped things up in the third period. All three Raider captains earned assists on the final three goals, with Cole Danielson picking up two and Payton Hanson and Carter Maack one each.
“We've got a young team, so period by period is different,” he noted. “And I think in the third period our leadership stepped up and we played harder and with more energy and a little more discipline. Those are things we always preach; it's just at times we're not doing those things and it's costing us in certain games.”
Danielson scored the first goal of the game 4:19 into the second period when he and Ross played a perfect give-and-go from the blue line but Memorial tied it up five minutes later.
The Old Abes took a 2-1 lead at the 11:35 mark of the second off a scrum in front of Raider goalie AJ Cohen, but Hudson answered less than a minute later when junior Kolton Prater hit Dove with a breakout pass and Dove fired a wrister from just inside the left circle to make it a 2-2 game after two.
The game between last year's two state finalists was about as even as you'd expect, with each team firing 21 shots on goal. Memorial finished 1-for-5 on the power play while Hudson was 1-for-4.
Lockwood said he didn't agree with all the Raider penalties in the game, but he liked the way his team handled them.
“A lot of penalties,” he said. “I'm not sure we really deserved that, but at the same time liked the way we responded.”
He said it's good for the young Raiders to be challenged.
“I think it helps to battle through some adversity,” he said. “I think in the last few conference games we didn't do it. It was good to see in the third how we bounced back and got some leadership and experience there. I was very proud of them.”
Next up for the Raiders is a home game against BRC co-leader Chippewa Falls (9-4-1, 5-1-0) this Thursday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 4-3 in their first meeting this season Nov. 29.