Boys hockey: Tigers survive physical affair
Both coming off road losses to the top two teams in the South Suburban Conference earlier in the week, Farmington and Rosemount entered Saturday's matinee at Schmitz-Maki Arena fired up, looking to establish a physical tone and get their seasons back on a winning track.
In the end, it was Farmington that emerged with a 2-1 victory in a game that featured an astounding 26 penalties that totaled 58 minutes, and a combined 20 power plays.
"The temperature of the building was high from the opening draw. There were by far more penalties than in any of our games this year and we struggled on the power play. We couldn't score. Their goaltender played well," Rosemount coach Brad Stepan said. "I thought our kids played really well. There were certainly some stretches of hockey where we took it to them."
The Irish finished with a lopsided 32-13 advantage in shots on goal, but battle-tested Farmington goaltender Gavin Enright proved to be the difference-maker, stopping 31 shots.
The Tigers rose above the fray with their best stretch of play in the middle of the first period. Darby Grengs slipped the puck past RHS goaltender Mason Lovich for the first goal of the game at the 7:51 mark (assist to Jordan Martinsen), and just over two minutes later, Landon Lancaster slapped the puck in from long range to make it 2-0. Ethan Gauer and Tye Berger provided the assists. Ben Garrity took over for the final 31-plus minutes and saved all eight Tiger shot attempts he faced.
The score stayed 2-0 until Jake Smith beat Enright at the 7:10 mark of the third period, Griffin Jagoe and Max Carter assisted. Enright managed to keep the Irish from scoring the equalizer over the next nine-plus minutes, however, despite the Irish playing with a man advantage nearly the entire stretch.
Two major penalties gave the Tigers a total of 32 minutes for their 13 infractions.
"It was a situation where there was a lot of emotion. We took some undisciplined penalties and did some foolish things to shoot ourselves in the foot throughout the game," Farmington coach Lee Goren said. "But I think the way we worked and the way our goaltender played gave us a chance to win a hockey game. We did well killing a lot of penalties. I was proud of how we competed."
Two days earlier, the Tigers were dealt a 7-1 setback by second-place Burnsville at Burnsville Ice Arena. The Blaze scored four goals in the first 23 minutes and added a pair of power-play goals late.
Grengs provided Farmington's lone goal late in the second period. Martinsen and Joe Wolters assisted.
Enright finished with 30 saves.
"They're a good hockey team with some really good players," Goren said. "They had a lot of firepower and kept coming at us. The guys were there at times, but we've got to compete for 51 minutes."
At the same time the Tigers were taking on Burnsville, the Irish were struggling to keep pace with conference-leading Prior Lake. The Lakers reeled off four unanswered goals in the second period on their way to a 6-3 win at Dakotah Ice Arena.
Smith, Jackson Sabo and and Jagoe scored goals for the Irish.
Garrity started in goal and made 25 saves over the first two periods. Lovich stopped all 10 Laker shots in the third.
The Irish (9-10-1) close out the regular season with a challenging schedule that includes a Feb. 8, nonconference game against Minnehaha Academy and league tilts against Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Burnsville and Apple Valley.
"We're going to have to be on our toes," Stepan said.
The Tigers (8-11-1) are on the road Thursday, Feb. 9, at Lakeville South and still have Eagan, Prior Lake and Eastview waiting on their SSC schedule.