Rogne's return, Lamb's goals boost Dodge County past Lourdes in Section 1A showdown
Isaac Rogne and Brody Lamb scored twice, Isaac Dale stopped 11 shots and Dodge County beat Rochester Lourdes in a boys hockey matchup of top-five teams in Section 1A.
KASSON — The Dodge County Wildcats still think about it sometimes.
They don’t dwell on it, but it’s there, in the back of their minds: A loss to eventual section champion Mankato East in the Section One, Class A boys hockey semifinals a year ago.
“It hurt ending that way, too early,” Dodge County senior captain Ethan Dale said. “We wanted to go to state last year. It didn’t happen. We constantly thought about that all summer. We did a lot of summer skating and that was always in our minds going forward, that we have to get better so that doesn’t happen to us this year.”
Like all great teams and athletes, the Wildcats still view themselves as a work in progress, even though they are ranked No. 18 in the latest Class A state poll, even though they’re 9-3-1, even though two of their losses came by just one goal, and even though they beat Section 1A rival Rochester Lourdes convincingly on Tuesday, 5-1 at Dodge County Ice Arena.
There’s no satisfaction yet for this Wildcats team. Their goals go beyond a good regular season, beyond a state ranking, and beyond just getting a high seed in the section playoffs, which begin in 13 days, on March 16.
“It’s a start,” Dale said after the Wildcats’ victory against Lourdes on Tuesday. “We still have a few games left and we have to keep building going into the playoffs. At the beginning of the year, our goal was to keep building, no matter what happens, keep building toward the playoffs and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Tuesday’s victory was a small step, a turn in the right direction.
Dodge County controlled the puck-possession battle and limited Lourdes (7-4-1) to just 12 shots on goal in the game. The Wildcats were also opportunistic offensively, as they have been all season.
They scored on the first shot of the game, and again on the first shot of the second period. They received two goals from their star forward, two more from another standout forward making his return after a short absence, and strong goaltending from their second-year varsity starter.
“Our forecheck has been good the past few games and we kind of kept that going (Tuesday),” Wildcats head coach Nick Worden said. “We’ve been trying to focus more on our defensive-zone play. We’re still struggling there a bit. We’re just trying to get the kids to make quick decisions and go with their gut. We tend to hold the puck too long sometimes.”
Dodge County more than held its own in its defensive zone Tuesday. The Wildcats used their speed to keep Lourdes off balance most of the night. The Eagles didn’t record their first shot on goal until more than seven minutes into the game, and they managed just three shots on goal in the first period.
Lourdes’ lone goal came with 2:30 left in the game, by which point it was trailing by five goals.
“We weren’t moving the puck like we do in practice and had been in recent games,” Lourdes head coach Jeff True said, “but then again we haven’t played a team like (Dodge County) in awhile, so we weren’t used to the speed they play at. We haven’t played a team like this since we played Mayo (a 3-2 loss on Feb. 16).
“I think we have to learn something from this. There are things we’d certainly like to toss out, just because there was a lot of sloppy play, but … if you’re going to lose, you might as well learn from it.”
Dodge County’s star junior forward and University of Minnesota commit Brody Lamb struck on the game’s first shift, scoring the first of his two goals in the game. Linemates Gavin Giesler and Matt Donovan sprung him on a breakaway 35 seconds into the game and he beat Lourdes goalie Griffin Becher (23 saves) with a quick wrist shot high to the glove side.
Wildcats senior forward Isaac Rogne — back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with a concussion — then scored on his first shift of the second period, a highlight-reel goal just 1:05 in. Rogne skated the puck off the wall and through the right circle then placed a backhand shot bar-down over Becher’s shoulder to make it 2-0.
Lamb added his own highlight-reel goal with 1:12 left in the second, hitting the far-side top corner from the right circle to give his team a three-goal lead. Just 26 seconds later, freshman Cooper Jacobson scored his fourth goal of the season to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead after two.
Rogne and Lourdes’ Brayden Magnuson traded third-period goals.
The win for the Wildcats comes on the heels of a back-and-forth 8-7 OT loss at St. Cloud Cathedral on Saturday. Dodge County scored three third-period goals to force overtime, only to fall on a Crusaders’ goal 1:39 in.
Still, the Wildcats rebounded and did a lot of the right things on Tuesday, including keeping the puck away from Lourdes for extended periods of time, and shutting down the Eagles’ power play, which went 0-for-6. That number includes 0-for-2 on a pair of 5-on-3 advantages for more than a minute.
“I think it helps a lot,” Worden said of the Wildcats’ ability to possess the puck. “I just don’t want to get us into that 8-7, run-and-gun hockey. We can’t sustain that and that’s not good hockey.
“So we’re trying to get back to where we’re only giving up two or three goals a night and try to put four or five in. That’s a good formula.”
Dodge County has another tough test Friday, playing at No. 3-ranked Little Falls. Lourdes plays at Southwest Christian/Richfield on Thursday.
Dodge County 5, Lourdes 1
Dodge County 1-3-1—5
First period — 1. DC, Brody Lamb 25 (Matt Donovan 12, Gavin Giesler 7) :35. Second period — 2. DC, Isaac Rogne 3 (unassisted) 1:05. 3. DC, Lamb 26 (Giesler 8, Donovan 13) 15:48. 4. DC, Cooper Jacobson 4 (Ethan Dale 4, James McPeak 4) 16:14. Third period — 5. DC, Rogne 4 (Charlie Blaisdell 15, Jake Isaak 4) 8:08. 6. RL, Brayden Magnuson 3 (Jack Kleinschmidt 13) 14:30.
Shots on goal — RL 3-4-5—12; DC 12-8-8—28. Goalies — RL, Griffin Becher (L, 5-3-1; 23 saves-28 shots); DC, Isaac Dale (W, 7-3-1; 11 saves-12 shots). Power-play opportunities — RL, 0-for-6; DC, 0-for-1. Penalties — RL, 3-9 minutes; DC, 8-19 minutes.