Getting a goal in the first minute of a hockey game is something every coach likes to see.
But getting nine over the course of the 51 minutes and from five different skaters really at St. Mary’s Springs coach Ty Steffes smiling after Saturday’s 9-3 victory over Oshkosh at the Blue Line Family Ice Center.
“That was the nice part, spreading it around and seeing some other guys score,” Steffes said. “We were not doing a lot of scoring in the beginning of the season so just getting the guys back on a scoring pace rather than always playing defense helps alot.”
Connor Blanck registered his second hat trick of the season, while Matt Austin and Mark Austin each chipped in two goals in the win for the Ledgers.
And it was Blanck that got the Ledgers’ motor started, scoring less than a minute into the game off an assist from Brendon Gysbers.
“(An early goal) just sets the tempo,” Blanck said. “It gets everyone going right away and it sets the pace.”
Blanck would score again six minutes later and the Ledgers would take a 2-1 lead after the first period.
“Starting early, that’s something we haven’t done all year. It’s very nice,” Steffes said. “The best part is not so much getting the first one but getting the second one. You don’t want to get the first one and then sit back and relax.”
The second period is when Springs broke the game open, tallying five goals, including the four by the Austins to overwhelm the Ice Hawks — who switched goalies midway through the period.
Sean Ahern’s power play goal opened the scoring and then the Ledgers used a relentless forecheck to generate its offense.
“We put in a new forecheck and it has been working really well,” Blanck said. “It gets everyone pumped up and gets everyone moving real fast. As soon as we can get it set up down low in the offensive zone we can just get it going.
“As soon as the first one goes in, you just keep popping them after that.”
The Ledgers’ forecheck kept Oshkosh bottled up in its own zone for long stretches and forced the Ice Hawks to often use long clearing pass attempts.
That led to a steady string of icing calls against the Ice Hawks, which brought the puck back in Oshkosh’s zone where Springs could take advantage.
“The forecheck takes care of business for us,” Steffes said. “Once you start forechecking, you never let them out of their zone. If they can’t get it out of the zone, the only offense they had was throwing a flyer out there and fast breaking it.”
Andrew Riehl was solid in goal for the Ledgers, stopping 28 of 31 shots, while also picking up an assist on Matt Austin’s goal late in the second period that sent Springs to a 7-3 lead.
Gysbers and Blanck would tack on the final tallies, with Blanck’s goal three minutes into the third period completing the hat trick and sealing the victory.
“It always fees good to get one,” Blanck said of the hat trick. “Any win gives us confidence and it was a team effort today.”
Springs 9, Oshkosh 3
SMS — Connor Blanck (Brendon Gysbers), :50. SMS — Blanck (Anthony Grebe), 6:07. OSH — Ryan Mantz (Austin Eler, Sergei Bouche), 6:24.
Second period: SMS — Sean Ahern (Benton Deanovich, Alex Fischer), 2:19 (pp). SMS — Mark Austin (Gysbers, Grebe), 5:33. OSH — Mantz (Eiler, Eddie Dempsey), 6:39. SMS — Matt Austin (Jackson Voight, Blanck), 9:36. SMS — Mark Austin (Blanck, Tanner Good), 9:47. OSH — Tyler Hoodie (Nick Monfils), 11:18. SMS — Matt Austin (Fischer, Andrew Riehl), 15:55.
Third period: SMS — Blanck (Grebe, Mark Austin), 3:19. SMS — Gysbers, 5:10.
Saves: OSH (Dan Degner 13, Zach Holliday 13) 16, SMS (Andrew Riehl) 28.