MARSHALL - Without a regulation win since Dec. 21 and coming off a humbling 7-0 defeat to Luverne their last time out on the ice, the Marshall boys' hockey team entered Tuesday's Southwest Conference showdown with the Worthington Trojans hungry for a return to their winning ways.
The Tigers managed to take a bite out of the Trojans with a 3-0 win, but the mood in the Marshall locker room after the game was anything but satisfied.
"We still didn't get it together even though we got the win," Marshall head coach Dave Coudert said. "The systems, the intensity just wasn't there."
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall’s Quinn Horvath, left, skates up the ice as a Worthington player skates beside him in pursuit during Tuesday night’s Southwest Conference boys’ hockey game at Lockwood Motors Ice Arena.
Off of the opening faceoff the Tigers looked to have a fire in their step which was totally absent against the Cardinals, as Corey Clark rung the post just seconds into the game. Clark struck iron again in the opening three minutes, but helped the Tigers force two penalties on the Trojans to give Marshall a 5-on-3 power play.
The two-man advantage yielded no results for the Tigers and seemed to give the Trojans a burst of energy after killing off both penalties. Once back at full strength, it was Worthington's turn to strike a goal post, as Kody Honius rattled the cross bar.
The Tigers (6-6-1 overall, 4-2 SWC) were lucky to get to the first intermission with a 0-0 tie, despite holding an 11-4 advantage in shots.
"We didn't come out like we thought we would have," Marshall assistant captain Leo Zerr said. "We had a good practice yesterday and we didn't play like we should have. We came out with low intensity and it showed."
Coaches and captains alike re-lit the fire under the Tigers between the first and second periods, and when Marshall retook the ice for Period 2 it took just 17 seconds before the Tigers were able to beat Worthington netminder Ryan Scholtes.
Austin Leek's shot from the point glanced off the stick of a Worthington defender and slipped between the legs of Scholtes to get the Tigers on the board. Clark and Adam McVey were credited with assists on the goal.
It would take the Tigers the rest of the period before they were able to force the puck completely across the goal-line again, however, as several chances were tipped just wide or into Scholtes' chest.
Clark picked up his second assist of the game 16 minutes, 18 seconds into the second period as he slipped the puck to Zerr, who made space for himself in the center of the offensive zone and slipped a shot under Scholtes' right arm.
Due to the absence of a pair of regulars for the Tigers, Marshall coaches were forced to juggle their lines against Worthington to varying success.
"We're missing two key players so we had to make some new lines," Coudert said. "Some of them are working well, then we'll have to see what happens when (Alex) Buysse and (Tyler) Untiedt come back."
One of the lines that worked out well all night for the Tigers was that of Zerr, Beau Mikel and Quinn Horvath. Though diminutive in size, the three Marshall seniors pestered the Trojans for the full duration of each of their shifts, while Horvath was responsible for the third Tiger goal at the 10:48 mark of the third period.
Zerr dished the puck to Nate Hoeft, who in turn found Horvath below the goal line. Horvath came out of the corner and snapped a low, hard shot at Scholtes who was caught between standing and sprawling on the odd angle.
"I'd like to keep rolling with it," Zerr said of his new pairing with Mikel and Horvath. "We had two goals out there today. I'd like to see what we could do when we're actually playing well."
Marshall's three-goal lead was put in jeopardy by the officials in the latter stages of the game, when Clark was called for a 5-minute major boarding penalty at the 12:30 mark of the third period for boarding.
"That's the new rules now," Coudert said. "It's going to get called, basically there's not much we can do. Our (penalty kill) is pretty strong. We've got guys that can actually generate offense from the PK, so we let the four main guys roll all four minutes so they can keep on perfecting what they've been doing."
The Tigers kept the pressure on the Trojans during the final 4 1/2 minutes, while Adam Cavazos stopped any shots that threatened his goal, just as he had all night.
Cavazos' 20-save shutout got off to a strange start, as the senior missed nearly all of the 15-minute warmup. It was only with 90 seconds remaining that he finally stepped out onto the ice and turned aside a few practice shots.
"He had a skate issue to begin with, so he had to get his skates re-sharpened," Coudert said. "He came out and we asked him if he was ready to go after his 30-second warmup and he said yeah. He went in there and made some key saves and kind of kept the team in there until we got it going."
The Tigers return to the ice on Saturday with a roadtrip to face the Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato Dragons.
Worthington0 0 0-0
Marshall0 2 1-3
M-Austin Leek (Adam McVey, Corey Clark), 0:17
M-Leo Zerr (Clark), 16:18
M-Quinn Horvath (Nate Hoeft, Zerr), 10:48
Shots on Goal: W-20; M-40.
Goaltenders: W-Ryan Scholtes (37 saves); M-Adam Cavazos (20 saves).