Boys hockey: Trojans take game late
One of Brad Stepan's immediate goals when he took over as Rosemount's head boys hockey coach was to improve the team's game-readiness by increasing its level of intensity in practice.
Despite the final results, Stepan liked what he saw in last Tuesday's season opener. The Irish, 6-21 a year ago, held a second-period lead before falling 3-2 to 12th-ranked (Class 2A) Wayzata at the Rosemount Community Center. The Trojans have a record of 4-1 and are coming off a 16-10 season.
"We saw kids competing every shift last Tuesday and that really excited us. That's one thing this staff had in mind when we started 25 weeks ago.... We want them to empty the tank," Stepan said. "The boys really competed hard throughout and after two periods we really liked the position we were in. The boys just have to learn to win - we can't accept losses and say we played alright."
The score was knotted up at 2-2 after two periods, but it just as easily could have been 3-1 Irish. Shortly after Lukas Gillett's goal (assists to Ted Schultz and Justin Crowell) made it 2-1 early in the second, Gillett sent another shot toward the net that hit the crossbar. The Irish hesitated, thinking the puck had gone in, but Wayzata sent the puck the other way and scored a breakaway goal to make it 2-2.
"If Lukas scores there we would have locked it down pretty good," Stepan said. "Then we took a foolish penalty in the third and they capitalized on it."
The Trojans scored the difference-maker on the power play at the 3:51 mark of the third. They ended up just 1 of 4 on the power play, but the advantage helped them rack up a 34-16 edge in shots on goal.
"We took too many penalties. That's one thing we've talked about at practice, we have to stay out of the box," Stepan said. "As skilled as Wayzata is, if you put them on the power play as many times as we did they're going to outshoot you 2 to 1."
Schultz opened the scoring for the Irish at the 14:39 mark of the first. Gillett provided the assist.
Goaltender Tom Fraune stopped 31 Wayzata shots.
The Irish traveled to Farmington Tuesday and open the South Suburban Conference season Saturday at Eagan.
"Both of those teams are very skilled. In order for us to be successful, we have to concentrate on getting the puck deep and banging with the defensemen," Stepan said. "We have to do the little things right. If we don't, we'll have a tough time."