Rangers top Hastings in final regular-season home game
Hockey boys also defeat Raptors with last-second goal
The Rangers got revenge with a 5-3 win over Hastings in their last regular-season home game on Saturday night. Forest Lake fell to the Raiders in overtime in January.
Halfway through the first period this time around, Hastings made good on a power play after numerous attempts to go up 1-0. Forest Lake responded minutes later off what appeared to be a deflected centering pass by senior Jack Schmidt. Senior Cody Rogala assisted on the play. Forest Lake recorded two more goals in the second period, the first coming from junior Ryan Herbert in the crease off passes from junior Alex Egle and senior Kyle Parker.
Junior Brett Gravelle poked the puck to the back of the net to make it a 3-1 game with 35 seconds remaining in the second period. Junior Clayton Dahly and Schmidt assisted.
Gravelle scored again just seconds into the third period off a pass from junior Paul Stehr at the left point.
Seven minutes later, Rogala and Gravelle each earned another assist during a two-on-one breakaway that allowed junior Weston Kilpela to score the last Ranger goal of the night to put the game at 5-1.
Hastings would score twice in the third to come within two.
Head coach Aaron Forsythe said the Rangers’ improvement on defense allowed for the Ranger win.
“Our forwards have been making better decisions with the puck in the neutral and offensive zones, which has allowed us to sustain more offensive pressure,” Forsythe said. “I thought the line of Gravelle-Rogala-Kilpela were dominant at points of the game. Also, Jack Schmidt controlled the pace of the game from the blue line and did a great job shutting down Hastings on defense.”
Forest Lake came into the matchup following an exciting 4-3 win at Park last Thursday where the Rangers entered the third period tied at two. Forsythe said he was disappointed with the effort as Park has just two conference wins, but pleased the Rangers came out on top.
Kilpela earned the first goal off passes from Gravelle and Rogala, while Gravelle recorded the second score with a Schmidt assist. The Wolfpack continued to fight back and scored the tying goal seven minutes into the third period. But sophomore John Suess responded minutes later for the 3-2 go-ahead goal off a pass from Rogala.
With less than a minute to go in the game, Park scored to even the scales again, 3-3.
But following a roughing penalty by the Wolfpack, the Rangers capitalized on a power play. Rogala clinched the victory off passes from senior Noah Brown and Schmidt with just five seconds to go.
Both wins contributed to a three-game winning streak for the Rangers and brought their overall record to 14-10 (9-7 in conference play).
“I was very happy with our effort against Hastings after coming out flat at Park,” Forsythe said. “We seem to have all things moving in the right direction going into section play next week.”
Forest Lake travels to East Ridge at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Feb. 14 for its last regular-season matchup. East Ridge is 13-9-2 overall and 9-6 in the Suburban East Conference. Section play opens on Feb. 19. Seedings have yet to be determined.