After losing so much talent from last year’s squad, pretty much everyone knew it would be a bit of a learning process for the St. Mary’s Springs co-op boys hockey team in 2015-16.
Unfortunately for the Ledgers, they’ll need to do it without one of their best players.
Fox Cities scored twice in the third period to knock off St. Mary’s Springs 4-2 in a Badgerland Conference game on Tuesday evening at Blue Line Family Ice Center. But the bigger loss came in the form of a player — senior Brady Sarauer broke his collarbone in the second period, meaning Tuesday’s season opener might be the last time he plays for a few months.
“To lose Brady Sarauer with a broken collarbone, he’s done indefinitely,” St. Mary’s Springs coach Tim Ahern said. “Now we’re scrambling.”
Already playing a bunch of juniors and sophomores, along with some freshmen, the Ledgers were young to begin with. Without Sarauer, they’ll be one of the youngest teams around.
In Tuesday’s game against the Stars, St. Mary’s Springs (0-1, 0-1 Badgerland) actually grabbed the lead in the first period on a Sarauer goal at 11:12.
But Andrew Ohland and Boyd Dietzen scored for Fox Cities (3-1, 1-0 Badgerland) in the second period to give the Stars the 2-1 advantage. Springs’ Mitchell Grebe scored as the horn sounded at the end of the second to put the Ledgers right back into the game, however the Stars answered back with goals from Jonathon Kwasny and Gus Mantey minutes apart in the third.
Without players like Conner Blanck or Anthony Grebe, who powered a high-scoring Springs offense in 2014-15, the Ledgers were looking to perform even better on defense this season. Although Ahern believed they showed potential on Tuesday, he knows there’s a lot to work on as the Ledgers likely won’t win many games in which they allow four goals.
“I thought they did well,” Ahern said. “There was some times where I gave green lights to a couple of the guys to get up in the play and they didn’t get back like they should. That’s something we’re going to work on in practice, discipline in our zone. I didn’t think we took care of the front of the net in the third period. We let too many pucks lay right in front, so those are things we’ll get corrected.”
Offensively, the Stars held a slim 19-18 edge in shots-on-goal, but they took advantage of the opportunities they were given whereas Springs allowed a few great chances to go to waste. As the Ledgers move forward, they’ll look to capitalize more often on those kinds of plays.
“The biggest thing is we need to capitalize on the chances that we do get,” Ahern said. “We had two 3-on-1 (breaks) and a breakaway. The two 3-on-1 (chances), we barely got a shot and the breakaway, it was up in the upper net. We have to capitalize on the opportunities we get. It’s with guys that can score goals and they have to score goals when they get the chance.”
All that in mind, Ahern still saw a lot of positives in Tuesday’s loss. With the amount of youth on the team, he realizes the beginning of the season might be rough but is expecting improvement.
“When you’re playing the number of underclassmen we’re playing and we’re battling,” he said. “They worked a little bit too hard at times. They needed to read the plays a little bit better. But there’s plenty of positives. That’s what I told the guys after the game. There’s a lot of great things, but if you don’t take care of the puck and the other team capitalizes on your mistakes, you’re going to lose the game. That’s what happened tonight.”
0 2 2— 4
St. Mary’s Springs
1 1 0 — 2
First period: SMS—Brady Sarauer (Zachary Wilson, Noah Guyette), 11:12.
Second period: FC— Andrew Ohland (Michael Schermerhorn), 1:19. FC— Boyd Dietzen (Seth Bishop, Hunter Hewitt), 13:34. SMS— Mitchell Grebe (Johnny Welsh, Wilson), 0:01.
Third period: FC— Jonathon Kwasny (Hunter Schwehr, Noah Krueger), 9:03. FC— Gus Mantey (Hewitt, Ohland), 11:02.
Sam Oleson: (920) 907-7930, email@example.com or follow on Twitter @sam_olesonFDL