Alexandria boys' hockey: Cardinal offense goes missingThe team followed up a 12-0 win over Willmar by getting shut out at home against St. Cloud Apollo
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
A lot can change in hockey from one game to the next.
Five days after the Alexandria boys steamrolled Willmar 12-0, the Cardinals found themselves searching to even find a goal against St. Cloud Apollo. The Eagles came into the Runestone Community Center with a 4-3 record and needed just two second-period goals to leave with a 2-0 win on Tuesday night.
“It’s been so good to this point that you just kind of expected that we’d show up,” head coach Scott Woods said. “Even in the first when we didn’t look that great, we still put up some shots. It just got worse from there. We just struggled. I know some of that is energy wise. We don’t look the same when we’ve been fighting the [flu] bug that we’ve been fighting, but there again, I don’t want to use that as an excuse.”
The Cardinals looked like they might take control of the game in the opening period. They overcame a slow first couple minutes before controlling the pace of play through much of the first. They outshot the Eagles 17-6 in that frame and had one of those shots deflect off the post.
That’s as close as Alexandria would get to lighting the lamp. Apollo outshot the Cardinals 29-18 over the final two periods. The Eagles’ first goal came off a rebound that was knocked back into the net. Senior Jordan Keller then gave his team all the momentum with almost six minutes left in the second when he connected on a wrister during a power play.
“We had some good stretches there [in the first period],” Woods said. “Then it was just hard to get the motivation going, getting guys to work as hard as they’ve been working. I don’t know if anything changed in the second and third. We didn’t think our effort was all that great in the first.”
Woods wasn’t happy with the way his team moved the puck on offense. The Cardinals were coming off a game where they found the open guy better than they have all season on their way to running away from Willmar.
“We’ve been doing such a good job of that,” Woods said. “I’ve been so impressed with how we’ve been moving the puck. Tonight, it just wasn’t there. We were standing flat footed, we were circling, just did a lot of the things we haven’t done early on in the season.”
The end result was a loss that moved Apollo even in the win column with Alexandria in conference play. Apollo’s freshman goaltender Nick Althaus played well in net, turning aside the 35 shots he faced. Alexandria’s Ben Allen took a hard-luck loss after collecting 33 saves himself.
St. Cloud Tech is the early front-runner in the Central Lakes Conference with a perfect 4-0 record. The Eagles, Cardinals and Sauk Rapids-Rice all have two wins, while Brainerd-Pillager-Pierz is right there at 3-2.
“I think there’s going to be a battle for the conference this year where there isn’t that one front runner,” Woods said. “I think teams are going to bump each other all throughout the year. A loss isn’t always the worst thing in the world. Sometimes it gets you re-motivated and reminds you that you have to work hard. You can’t just win on talent alone.”
Woods hopes that is the lesson that his team takes from this loss to Apollo. The Cardinals had one more game in conference play this week when they went to Sauk Rapids last night, Thursday.
They will then travel to Roseau for the Rams’ annual holiday tournament where they will face a field that includes teams from Hopkins, Chisago Lakes, Coon Rapids, Lake of the Woods, Minot and Mandan, North Dakota.
“We just need to learn from this,” Woods said. “Realize that we didn’t give our best effort. That’s not to take anything away from [Apollo]. They played hard. They were a nice team, but it’s just frustrating as a team when you don’t give your best effort. I think we always try to talk about that after a game like this and then move on to the next day. We’ll restart on Thursday and hopefully get a win and carry it into the holiday tournament.”
ST. CLOUD APOLLO 0 2 0 – 0
ALEXANDRIA 0 0 0 – 0
SHOTS – St. Cloud Apollo – 35; Alexandria – 35
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – No scoring
SECOND PERIOD – Apollo – Paul Kenney; Apollo – Jordan Keller
THIRD PERIOD – No scoring
GOALTENDING – St. Cloud Apollo – Nick Althaus – W, 35 saves, 35 shots; Alexandria – Ben Allen – L, 33 saves, 35 shots