The Forest Lake boys hockey team opened its season on Saturday night with a 5-2 victory over St. Michael-Albertville.
To head coach Aaron Forsythe’s knowledge, this was the first time a Forest Lake team competed prior to Thanksgiving break.
“I felt rushed heading into Saturday’s game,” Forsythe said. “I was very happy, though, especially considering how we looked during a scrimmage earlier this season. But once that puck hit the ice on Saturday, those little things that we were hankering them on before, they started doing right. It was a good effort.”
It was a slow start for the Rangers, who trailed 1-0 until late in the first period when they took advantage of a misconduct and major penalties enforced on a St. Michael-Albertville captain, who checked junior Jake Peterson from behind. Junior John Suess jump-started the scoring streak less than a minute into the power play with a goal off assists by sophomore Cole Herbert and senior Weston Kilpela.
Thirty seconds later, senior Paul Stehr laced a long shot that rebounded off the visiting goalie and was recovered by Peterson to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Suess then gave Forest Lake a two-goal cushion 40 seconds later when his shot from the right side off a pass from senior Taylor Marx curled in the far side of the net.
Forsythe said he was proud of the way his team attacked on the power-play opportunity.
“A lot of times with that five-minute penalty, kids will let up on the intensity,” Forsythe said. “I just reminded them not to take it for granted, put the pedal to the metal and not look back. Fortunately, we did that.”
Forest Lake nearly held the Knights to a scoreless second period. The visitors scored with less than 40 seconds left to bring them within one goal.
Stehr finally struck a goal in the third period despite three shots on goal late in the second period in one shift. The senior scored a power-play goal off a pass from Peterson to put the Rangers back up by two goals at 4-2.
Senior Ryan Herbert assisted senior Brett Gravelle in sealing the scoring late in the third period when Gravelle scored on an open net after St. Michael-Albertville pulled its goalie.
Senior goalie Jesse Garcia recorded 22 saves on the night, including a penalty-shot save in the third period.
The victory marks the third season in a row the Rangers defeated the Knights, although Forsythe said the young St. Micheal-Albertville squad has great developing talent in its younger players and will be a team to watch come post season play.
Forest Lake traveled to East Bethel on Tuesday night to face St. Francis and will hit the road again on Saturday, Nov. 30, for a 7:30 p.m. game at Grand Rapids.