Boys hockey: Irish outmuscled at Eagan
It's just three games into the season, but Rosemount first-year head coach Brad Stepan already has a pretty good idea of the identity of his hockey team.
His Irish are all about physicality over finesse. If they can outmuscle their opponents they can compete, like they did in last Tuesday's 6-4 road win over Farmington at Schmitz-Maki Arena. Saturday night the Irish matched up against a stronger Eagan team in their South Suburban Conference opener at Eagan Civic Arena and were dealt an 8-0 loss.
"Playing physical is crucial. In (our first) two games we got the puck behind their defensemen and we did our thing down low. Against Eagan we didn't do those things," Stepan said. "They were bigger, faster and stronger than us all night."
The Irish's physical play helped them overcome an early 2-0 deficit at Farmington. With the score 3-1 in the second period, Luke Meade laid a big hit on a Farmington player that Stepan said shifted the momentum of the game. The Irish scored the final two goals of the period to tie the game and then knocked in two more to start the third.
"That hit changed the momentum of that hockey game. It was a good, clean hit and the kid got injured, which isn't what we want to see, and it set the tempo for the rest of the game," he said. "They're a young, talented team. We are bigger and older, so that's the way we have to play. That's how we can be effective."
Meade led the Irish with a pair of goals. Lukas Gillett had a goal and two assists and Evan Weiand, Tom Linder and Tyler Frank each added goals. Weiand, Ryan Foley, Anthony Winters and Andrew Dawson supplied assists.
Goaltender Tom Fraune stopped 38 Farmington shots to pick up his first win of the season.
Fraune and Austin Leslie combined to face 40 shots Saturday in Eagan and the Irish produced just 12 in the 8-0 loss.
The Wildcats took control with six goals during a second period where they reeled off 22 shots on goal.
"We knew they were going to come out banging and playing very hard. We just didn't come ready to play," Stepan said. "As a coaching staff we have to do a better job preparing our kids and the kids need to better prepare themselves."
The Irish (1-2) faced another tough task Tuesday night at home against Burnsville. They travel to Shakopee tonight and close out a critical week with a game against Lakeville South on Saturday.
"The big thing right now is we are going to find out a lot about our young athletes and see how they respond against a very good Burnsville team. They're probably even better than Eagan," Stepan said. "They're going to find out where they stack up."