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JM plays hard, physical in loss

By Jason Feldman

jfeldman@postbulletin.com

ST. PAUL — Rochester John Marshall was here to enjoy the experience.

Part of that experience was setting out to win a hockey game. The Rockets weren’t able to match St. Paul Johnson on the scoreboard, falling 4-0, but they did match the intensity and physical play of a big, strong Governors team during the opening game of Hockey Day Minnesota.

"We were told they were really physical," JM senior captain Max Foley said. "They take the body and play the puck hard. We had to come out and match fire with fire."

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The physical play started in the opening minute and didn’t let up until the final buzzer.

More than the bumps and bruises, the pushing and shoving, and the final score, the Rockets will remember the soft snow and the intermittent winds that made skating difficult and passing the puck even tougher.

They’ll remember the fans standing along the boards who called the players over to chat during television timeouts. They’ll remember the Fox Sports North camera swinging out over players heads on a mechanical arm, and they’ll remember skating from the locker room to the rink through a human tunnel made by youth hockey players from Rochester and St. Paul.

"This was even better than we thought it would be," JM senior forward Nate Polansky said. "It sounds like a big deal, but when you get here your heart is thumping through your chest … it’s amazing."

Johnson (7-7-0) scored twice in the first period and once each in the final two periods. Junior Cory Ellis led the Governors with two goals, while sophomore defenseman Max Bollman had a goal and an assist.

JM sophomore goalie Bryan King did his best to hold the Rockets in the game, and he played a key role in the Rockets killing off a 5-on-3 disadvantage for nearly a minute in the second period.

JM’s best scoring chances came when sophomore Anthony Johnson hit the pipe in the first period, and Foley did the same late in the third, though Foley and other JM players on the ice at the time reacted as if the puck went in.

"It was in," Foley said with a smile after the game. "It was in, but the score really is not a big issue today. It’s about the experience."

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JM (5-11-0) is back in action Thursday at Owatonna in a game that was rescheduled from Dec. 20. That gives the Rockets a couple more days to savor being television stars for a day.

"Obviously, you’d like to win," JM coach Scott Lecy said, "but the kids won’t look back at that. They’ll remember the day."

ST. PAUL JOHNSON 4, JM 0

First period — 1. SPJ, Max Bollman (Jay Dickman, Nick Dietrich) 2:37. 2. SPJ, Cory Ellis (Jason Schmidt). Second period — 3. Ellis (Bollman) 1:56. Third period — 4. SPJ, Ian Zangs (Willie Faricy, Kyle Vickery) 4:16.

Goalies — JM, Bryan King; SPJ, Joe Benert. Power-play opportunities — JM 0-for-3; SPJ 0-for-5. Penalties — JM 7-16 minutes; SPJ 5-12 minutes.

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