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Boys hockey: Tigers fall a goal short against South, Eagan

The Farmington boys' hockey team missed out on a couple opportunities to make up ground on teams in front of it in the South Suburban Conference standings last week. The Tigers slipped back to seventh place in the 10-team league after matching 4-3 losses to Lakeville South and Eagan.

The Tigers overcame a slow start with three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead Saturday at Schmitz-Maki Arena, but Eagan tied the game just over one minute later and scored what turned out to be the game-winner at the 10:10 mark.

Jordan Martinsen, Ethan Gauer and Darby Grengs all scored with a man advantage as the Tigers went 3-for-3 on the power play. Martinsen, Grengs, Josh Ask and Landon Lancaster all provided assists.

Goaltender Gavin Enright stopped 27-of-31 Eagan shots.

"You have to give our guys credit. We went into the third down 2-1 and we weren't over-energetic and were kind of sluggish. The guys came out with a bunch of energy and were getting pucks on the net and getting traffic in front. That's what the power play is all about," Farmington coach Lee Goren said. "We had a really good third period and felt like we outplayed Eagan. We just gave them one too many opportunities in front of the net, and if you do something like that, it is going to cost you."

Two days earlier, the Tigers came on strong against Lakeville South, but their rally fell a goal short in the 4-3 loss. The Cougars were 4-0 winners the first time the teams squared off Jan. 7, in Farmington.

Kenneth Lacroix filled in between the pipes for Enright and made 37 saves.

"He stood tall and kept us in it with some good saves down the stretch," Goren said. "For us, we've got to compete for 51 minutes and we were right there. South is a very good hockey team and we came out and gave ourselves a chance to win."

South put the puck past Lacroix twice in the first 11 minutes before Mason Enright got one back with a power-play goal in the final minute of the first period. The Cougars then knocked in a pair of power-play goals early in the second period to take a 4-1 advantage.

The Tigers battled back with two goals of their own. Tye Berger scored unassisted at the 12:37 mark and just over two minutes later Martinsen scored on the power play, with assists from Grengs and Gauer, to make it a one-goal game.

It was Farmington's first game without Alex Trippel, who was released from the team last Monday. Trippel was leading the team with nine goals, but also had 57 penalty minutes in 20 games.

"It got to a point where an individual was putting themselves above what our group was trying to do," Goren said. "Our coaching staff had discussions with him about undisciplined penalties. It was time to move on without him."

The Tigers took an 8-13-1 record into Tuesday's nonconference road trip to St. Michael-Albertville. They travel Thursday, Feb. 16, to Prior Lake before closing out the regular season at home Saturday night against Eastview. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at Schmitz-Maki Arena.

"I'm happy with the strides the team is making and how we're competing," Goren said.