Farmington boys hockey has the talent; looks to build experience
The Farmington Tigers boys' hockey team played three close games this past week against South Suburban Conference foes Prior Lake and Burnsville, and then a nonconference matchup versus Blake. Against Prior Lake and Blake, the Tigers either led or were tied in the third period, while against Burnsville they were able to make a comeback to within a goal in the third against the Blaze. However, Farmington ended up falling in all three games, extending their losing streak to the last seven. The Tigers are now 4-9 overall and 2-6 in the SSC.
Farmington traveled to Prior Lake on Jan. 9. The Tigers tied the game at one apiece in the first period on a goal from junior Mason Enright and then took a 2-1 lead in the second period on another goal from Enright. They took that lead into the third period when Prior Lake tied it, but Farmington was able to regain the lead on Enright's third goal of the night for a hat trick. However, Prior Lake then went on to score two more goals 30 seconds apart at the end of the third period to win 4-3.
The Tigers hosted Burnsville on Friday, Jan. 12, when they lost 3-2. Farmington scored first on a goal from sophomore Ryan Gruber, but the Blaze responded with two goals of their own in the first period to lead 2-1. Burnsville added another goal in the second to lead 3-1 going into the third period. Junior Zach Willis scored five minutes into the third period to make it 3-2, but the Tigers were unable to tie the game.
There was plenty of scoring when Farmington hosted Blake on Saturday, Jan. 13. The Bears scored the first two goals of the game in the first six minutes, but the Tigers answered midway through the first period with a goal from freshman Logan Weierke. Blake took a 3-1 lead on another goal in the first before Farmington ended the period with a goal from sophomore Ryan Rouleau to make it 3-2. The Bears once again took a two-goal lead in the second period before junior Quinn Rudrud scored at the end of the second to cut Blake's lead back down to one. Rudrud scored again to start the third period and tie the game at 4-4. Both teams then exchanged goals to make it 5-5 (Farmington's goal came from Enright), but then the Bears closed out the Tigers with two more goals in the last minute to win 7-5.
Head coach John Marsh said that many of the Tigers' struggles comes down to being a young team.
"We're just a young team that struggles for consistency," he said. "That's probably the summation of the season. We struggle for consistency. If we play like we know how to play, like we can play, we are a very good team. When we get off track, we're very ordinary."
The Tigers have just five seniors on the roster and many of their players are seeing significant varsity minutes for the first time this season. However, there have been several bright spots according to Marsh.
"Our top line is good, they're fast and have extremely good skill," he explained. "We have Zach Willis, Mason Enright and Josh Ask at the front end of that top line who are really playing well. All of them have a lot of points, they're the bulk of our offense and they're all young, they're all juniors. They're all kind of finding their stride and learning how to play at this level and at this speed with consistency."
Several other players are showing promise as well.
"Quinn Rudrud is on our second line and he's been outstanding as far as his development," Marsh said. "He's really progressed into the kind of player he needs to be. On the back end, Ethan Gauer (senior) is our captain and most nights he is the best player on the ice. Great speed, great vision, great shot, great work ethic. Ryan Rouleau, a defenseman, is a sophomore and he is really coming on and playing great hockey."
Marsh said the team's goals for the rest of the season are to find that consistency he emphasized and to set themselves up for and be playing their best when section play comes.
Farmington hosted Rosemount, who sits atop the SSC at 12-2 (7-1 SSC), on Tuesday, Jan. 16. They then play Apple Valley at home on Friday, Jan. 19.