Pioneers drop early-season top-five match-up

A day before they faced off at Aldrich Arena, the boys hockey teams from Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Hill-Murray found out that the game would be a match-up of top-five teams. Benilde, off to a 4-0 start, vaulted from ninth to third in the Class AA rankings while Hill-Murray, idle for more than a week, remained at No. 4.

While the gap between the two teams in the rankings was miniscule, the gap between them on the ice on Dec. 3 was much larger. Benilde-St. Margaretís got up on the Pioneers early and rolled to a 5-1 victory.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior forward Cade Gleekel scored twice to lead the Red Knights, who led 2-0 after one and 4-1 after two. BSM also got goals from Luke Horton, who added two assists for a three-point night; Yokosuka Shota, who also had an assist; and Jacob Holmers, who matched Shota with a goal and an assist.

Hill-Murray’s lone score came midway through the second period when Luke Ranallo got free behind the Red Knights defense, took a pass from Derick Breezee and scored on a breakaway. Ranallo’s goal pulled the Pioneers closer at 3-1, but it did little to shift the momentum in the game.

Benilde held a 24-11 advantage in shots on goal through two periods, and the teams matched each other with 10 shots apiece in the third.

Hill-Murray goaltender Jake Begley stopped 29 of the 34 shots he faced. Begley made a number of impressive saves but not enough to keep the game close.

Begley’s counterpart from BSM, Ryan Bischel, made 20 saves to record the victory.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s improved to 5-0 with the victory and snapped a three-game losing streak against the Pioneers. The last time the Red Knights had beaten Hill-Murray was in March of 2012 in the Class AA state tournament championship game. Coincidentally, that game ended with a 5-1 score, also.

Through five games, the Red Knights are averaging six goals a game and against some decent competition. They put up eight against Duluth Marshall, a perennial Class A power that has opted to Class AA for the next two seasons. They also drilled Burnsville, which gave Hill-Murray a good game earlier this season, and edged Grand Rapids in overtime.

Rust definitely could have been a factor for Hill-Murray, which was playing just its second game of the season and first in 12 days. The Pioneers opened the season with a 4-3, come-from-behind win over Burnsville on Nov. 21.

The Pioneers didn’t have much time to stew over the loss, however. They were back in action two days later against ninth-ranked Wayzata, which had already played five games and beaten fifth-ranked Edina. Results of Hill-Murray vs. Wayzata were not available for this edition of the Review.

Coming up on the schedule for the Pioneers is a rivalry game against White Bear Lake on Dec. 8 and a trip to Maple Grove on Dec 12. Hill-Murray then plays four consecutive Metro East Conference road games to close out its pre-Christmas schedule. The Pioneers face Mahtomedi (Dec. 15), South St. Paul (Dec 17), North St. Paul (Dec. 19) and Tartan (Dec. 22).

Tartan

The Titans opened their season by going unbeaten in their first three games. After topping Roseville 6-3 in the season opener on Nov. 21, Tartan skated to a 1-1 tie against Forest Lake on Nov. 24 and dumped Rochester Lourdes 6-3 on Nov. 28.

Nate Reddy tallied the Titans’ only score against Forest Lake. The goal came in the second period but the Rangers tied it five minutes into the third period and that score stood through the rest of the game and overtime.

Julius Huset made 18 saves to pick up the victory in goal.

Like it did against Roseville, Tartan jumped out to a three-goal lead against Rochester Lourdes and never let the Eagles back in the game. Six different Titans tallied goals and Sam Poganski led the team with a goal and two assists. Reddy added a goal and an assist and Connor Brass, Nick Steinberg, Sam Lindahl and Joe Schommer each scored.

Michael Hughes stopped 19 shots in beating Lourdes.

Tartan entertained a pair of teams from northwest Minnesota in Thief River Falls and Crookston on Dec. 4 and 5, respectively. Those games took place past the deadline for this edition of the Review.

Coming up for Tartan is the beginning of Metro East Conference play as the Titans host South St. Paul on Dec. 10 and visit Mahtomedi on Dec. 12.

North

The Polars saw their record fall to 0-4 in a 5-3 defeat at the hands of Henry Sibley on Dec. 3.

After going 0-3 in three straight non-conference games, the Polars thought the switch to Metro East Conference opponents might be the elixir they needed, but it wasn’t.

Sibley jumped out to a 3-0 lead before North tried to make a comeback. Nathan Conroy and Joe Reubish scored less than two minutes apart in the second period to make it a one-goal game.

Henry Sibley restored some order by scoring just 15 seconds after the Polars’ second goal and added an insurance goal late in the third period.

Reubish tallied his second goal of the game in the third period but the score came with only 29 seconds remaining.

The Polars peppered Sibley netminder Charlie Harrity with 53 shots while North goalie Ben Herman stopped 32 of the 37 shots he faced. That’s a combined 90 shots on goals between the two teams and a healthy number regardless of what level of hockey it is.

The Polars’ next chance at a victory came on Dec. 5, past the deadline for this edition of the Review, against Owatonna.

Upcoming games for North include a trip to Phalen Arena on Dec. 8 for a match-up against St. Paul Johnson. The Polars then return home on Dec. 10 to host Mahtomedi in a Metro East tilt.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

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