December 19, 2003 at 11:20 a.m.
St. Francis 2
Despite being only three games into the season, already a trend has developed for the Chisago Lakes boys hockey team....poor first periods.
The ‘Cats were down 3-1 after one versus Hermantown and 1-0 versus Minnehaha. But it hasn’t been just the score, the Wildcats have lacked emotion and spark out of the gates. Last Tuesday versus St. Francis, Ken Orwoll addressed his team before the game hoping to change that.
“We talked about going out there and being ready to play in the first period,” mentioned Orwoll, Chisago Lakes boys hockey head coach. “We talked about how we started out against Minnehaha. We wanted to go out there right away and take it to them. We knew St. Francis was a better team than they were last year and we didn’t want to take them lightly.”
It’s safe to say that the ‘Cats got the message. Chisago Lakes roared out of the locker room, controlling the period, sending an 18-shot flurry at the Saints net.
The Wildcats rolled through three solid lines early. At the 7:57 mark of the first, freshman Jim Bergren opened up the scoring with an unassisted goal. Working on the power play, the Wildcats peppered the net with numerous shots before Bergren beat St. Francis goalie Dan Bailey with a shot between the circles. Bailey was screened in front; he never had a chance.
“We were using the points better than we have, I was very pleased with that,” remarked Orwoll. “Once you use your points, things get easier, there is a lot more room to work with. St. Francis was collapsing down pretty good to protect their goalie and that left us with some room up top.”
Less than four minutes later, Jordan Anderson made the score 2-0 with his first goal of the season. Anderson unloaded a circle from the neutral zone beating Bailey 5-hole. Steve Pieper finished up the first period just over a minute later, scoring his fourth goal of the season with the assist going to Matt Nelson. Skating four on four, Pieper got the pass from Nelson on top of the crease. The senior moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand, stuffing the puck into the open net.
“Pieper really doesn’t miss a whole lot of opportunities,” said Orwoll. “He’s pretty confident right now. He’s got some good hands and he’s smart so he understands where he needs to be. Right now, he’s fun to watch out there.”
Leading 3-1 heading into the second, Chisago Lakes did not let down. Craig Manthey made it 4-1 just 36 seconds into the second frame with Jake Miles picking up the lone assist. The goal extended Manthey’s fifth of the season, extending his point-scoring streak to four games. Moments later Pieper struck again on the power play for his second goal of the game making it 5-1. Matt Nelson then followed with an unassisted goal, pushing the Chisago lead to 6-1 after two. The Wildcats added 13 more shots on net in the second, finishing the game with 39.
“We have a lot of guys who are hungry, they want to keep going,” remarked Orwoll. “The captains are keeping the kids fired up, they were yelling on the bench, making sure we didn’t let down in the second. That was great to see. It’s a long season, let’s just hope we can keep that going.”
In the third, the pace slowed down as the Saints got Wildcat goalie Ryan Rose involved with nine shots on goal. Rose saved eight, securing a 6-2 win. For the game, Rose finished with 20 saves on 22 shots. The win pushed the ‘Cats season record to 3-1 overall.
“I think the kids are feeling pretty confident right now. We still are a little shaky getting out of our zone at times but it hasn’t hurt us yet,” said Orwoll. “Overall, I think they’re having fun but they want to get better. They’re realistic enough to know that we have some shortcomings that we still need to fix.”
Chisago Lakes 6
St. Francis 2
1 2 3 F
St. Francis 1 -- 1 2
Chisago Lakes 3 3 -- 6
1) CL- Bergren (unassisted) (pp) 7:57; 2) CL- Anderson (Pieper) 11:11; 3) CL- Pieper (Nelson) 12:55; 4) SF- Bergley (Ktytor) 15:57.
5) CL- Manthey (Miles) :36; 6) CL- Pieper (unassisted) (pp); 7) CL- Nelson (unassisted) 14:06.
8) SF- Schmidt (Crocker) 14:39.
Chisago Lakes 3
For 48 minutes last Friday, the Wildcats skated with the number seven team in state class A. For 48 minutes, the ‘Cats matched the Spartans shot for shot, check for check, big play for big play. For 48 minutes, the Wildcats played their best hockey all season, maybe even their best hockey in the last several years. Even though the final score said 6-3, for Chisago Lakes, it was a win.
“I haven’t seen the kids fired up like that in a long time,” said Ken Orwoll, Chisago Lakes boys hockey head coach, referring to the atmosphere in the locker room before the game. “After the game, at first, the kids were bummed because they lost but when we got back to town, we had a meeting and I think that’s when they realized just how well we played. They realized that we played with the number seven team in the state the entire way.”
To be honest, Orono is now number six in the state, making last week’s performance even more impressive.
The Wildcats drew first blood two minutes into the first. After Orono controlled play from the opening face-off, Craig Manthey spotted Jake Miles at neutral ice, springing the junior on a breakaway. Miles skated in and beat the Spartan goalie stick-side for the first goal of the game.
The lead was short lived as Orono answered less than two minutes later, then took the lead on the power play late in the first period giving them a 2-1 advantage after one.
“We wanted one man going in deep on the forecheck. They had some speed and the rink was wider so we knew that extra space could be a problem,” mentioned Orwoll. “We also wanted a back-checker back on defense and that worked well. I think we played really well on defense in the first and that kept us close.”
Close enough to tie. Playing shorthanded, the Wildcats strolled out of the locker room and picked up a shorthanded goal 48 seconds into the period on a Steve Pieper tally. The unassisted goal made it 2-2.
That’s how it stayed for the next 10 minutes as both teams showcased their skating talents with one odd man rush after another. While the offense heated up, so did the goaltending. After making nine saves in the first, ‘Cats goalie Chris Waltz was solid between the pipes, holding the Spartans at bay until late in the period. However, you can only keep a team like that quiet for so long.
Orono re-took the lead at the 5:56 mark of the second period, only to add another goal four minutes later. Goal three hurt, but goal four was a killer.
“The fourth goal was tough to take because it gave them a two goal lead and it’s tough to come back against a team like that,” replied Orwoll.
Pieper and company made it look easy, although it took some time. Down by two with under 10 minutes to play, Manthey fed the puck back to the Orono blueline where Carl Hoffman let it fly. The puck ping-ponged off several bodies, finally bouncing off Pieper’s padding and into the net. The deficit was one, 4-3.
“We were right back into it,” smiled Orwoll. “That goal gave us new life. We really had some people step up in that game. Nick Fisher played a great game, he played smart and was basically out there the entire game, and our first line was awesome. They had a hand in all three of our goals and really created some things on offense. That was great to see.”
The Wildcats opened things up down the stretch, desperate for that game-tying goal. However, even with two late power plays, that game-tying goal would never come. Meanwhile, Orono put some distance between them and the Wildcats on the scoreboard, striking for their fifth goal of the game with two minutes left on a one-timer from the slot. More than a minute later, with Waltz out of the net, the Spartans sealed the 6-3 win with an empty net goal.
“You always want to win, but we played really well against a quality team,” said Orwoll. “You always want to play tougher teams and I think in the future when we want to play Orono again, they’ll remember that it was a tough game and they’ll say yes. That’s what it takes to get better teams on your schedule, performances like that.”
Pieper and Manthey each finished the game with two points each while Hoffman picked up one. In goal, Waltz saved 24 of 29 shots.
As good as they played, the high had to be short lived with Spring Lake Park less than a day away.
“After the game, I told the guys to enjoy the way we played, but to also go home and get some rest for the Spring Lake Park game,” replied Orwoll. “I was worried about a letdown. After playing so well against Orono, we didn’t want to erase that effort with a poor performance against them.”
Chisago Lakes 3
1 2 3 F
Chisago Lakes 1 1 1 3
Orono 2 2 2 6
1) CL- Miles (Manthey) 15:15; 2) Orono- #9 (#21, #29) 13:49; 3) Orono- #18 (#16, #28) (pp) 1:53.
4) CL- Pieper (unassisted) (sh) :48; 5) Orono- #16 (#22) 5:56; 6) Orono- #12 (#3) 1:57.
7) CL- Pieper (Hoffman, Manthey) 9:20; 8) Orono- #22 (#16, #18) 2:21; 9) Orono- #28 (#21, #9) (en) :57.
Spring Lake Park 8
Chisago Lakes 0
The Wildcats not only erased Friday night’s performance, they crumpled up the piece of paper, doused it with lighter fluid, lit a match, and burned it to pieces. Last Saturday versus Spring Lake Park, it was that bad, losing 8-0.
Chisago Lakes controlled play for the first two minutes. From that point on, it was all Spring Lake Park.
The Spartans took advantage of a fatigued Wildcat team, scoring three goals in the first. The scoring started more than five minutes in with a even strength goal from their third line winger. Four minutes later, the Spartans made it 2-0 on an shorthanded goal before a third goal made it 3-0 with six seconds left in the period.
“I could tell that they were tired,” remarked Orwoll. “We talked about it after the Orono game, hoping that they would get some rest. They looked like they understood, they said they understood, but obviously they didn’t.”
Two more second period goals by Spring Lake Park quickly turned a win into a onslaught. The Spartans opened up the scoring in the second with a power play goal followed by an even strength goal four minutes later, pushing the lead to 5-0 after two.
In the third, Spring Lake Park added three more including their second shorthanded goal of the game. The last score of the game was another special teams tally, this one coming on the power play, beating Chris Waltz who relieved Ryan Rose to start the third.
“The first couple of shifts were good but I think after their second goal, the kids got concerned,” said Orwoll. “It was a shorthanded goal and you could tell the kids didn’t have the jump they normally do. I think if we would have gotten a goal early, it would’ve been a different game but we hit a couple of posts and we never got the bounces to go our way.”
“The locker room was pretty quiet before the game,” continued Orwoll. “They just didn’t have the fire in their eyes. The kids haven’t been through that before, playing a big game and then coming back with another. Hopefully they’ve learned their lesson with back-to-backs again this week.”
Although the competition won’t be as tough, Pine City and Cambridge-Isanti are up next on Friday and Saturday night. The wheels are already turning, hoping to avoid another meltdown.
“We’re definitely going to talk about it this week,” remarked Orwoll. “We’re going to talk about taking care of their bodies with rest and diet. Back-to-back games are difficult to play, but if we want to be a good team, we have to deal with it.”
The Wildcats (3-3 overall) match-up with the Dragons will be their first conference game of the season. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m.