Marshall boys’ hockey team puts the pressure on Redwood Valley in 5-1 win

By Travis Andries

MARSHALL – Redwood Valley goaltender Jordan Houle stopped 48 Marshall Tiger shots at Lockwood Motors Ice Arena on Tuesday, but needed to stop five more if the Cardinals hoped to pick up their first Southwest Conference boys’ hockey win since their season opener.

The saves didn’t come and neither did the win, as the Marshall Tigers controlled nearly every aspect of the game from first faceoff to final whistle in their 5-1 win over the Cardinals.

“You put 53 shots on, you’d like to see more goals but credit to their goalie,” Marshall head coach Dave Coudert said. “He was making some good saves, some pucks were going right to his chest, but that just means he was in the right spot. But our puck possession was great, especially behind the net. We were generating offense from there, so we were very satisfied with that.”

With all lines buzzing from the onset, the Tigers quickly got on the board as Leo Zerr buried a pass from Beau Mikel just two minutes, 58 seconds into the first period.

Mikel had received a pass from Quinn Horvath behind the net then used some quick stick handling to draw the defender away from Zerr and to him. A timely pass was right on Zerr’s tape, and the senior captains had combined to give Marshall a 1-0 lead.

When the Tigers and Cardinals last met on Dec. 13, it took the Tigers nearly two full periods to solve Houle. Though Marshall left Redwood Falls with a 4-1 win that night, Coudert was hoping for a more energized start to the second meeting.

“Last time we played them I think we were focusing too far ahead on the next game instead of the game we were about to play, so this time we just told them to focus on this game and not worry about what we’ve got coming up in the next couple weeks,” Coudert said. “Let’s set the tone in the first period. And we did, 20 shots to four shots, that’s setting the tone for us. It would have been nice to get a couple more goals, but we’re still satisfied with that period.”

The Tigers (9-7-1 overall, 7-2 SWC) maintained their pressure on Cardinals throughout the opening period, but did not score again until the first period’s final minute.

After a hustle play by Mikel forced a defensive zone turnover from Redwood Valley, Horvath would tuck a sneaky quick wrist-shot over Houle’s glove and under the crossbar to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead at the 16:28 mark of the first period.

Marshall kept the pressure on for most of the second period as well, picking up a goal from Levi Hedman at the 6:56 mark and a 5-on-3 powerplay goal from Mikel 10:09 into the period.

Hedman’s wrist shot from the point glanced off a Cardinal defensman’s stick and slipped past Houle, while Mikel slapped home a rebound that had squirted behind Houle and was resting just in front of the goal line.

With a 4-0 lead and 3-to-1 shot advantage the game seemed well in hand for the Tigers.

Redwood Valley scored their lone goal on a short-handed rush a minute and a half after Mikel’s goal. Hunter Breidenbach was the only Cardinal able to beat Marshall netminder Mason Campion on the night.

The Tigers regained their 4-goal advantage early in the third period, as Horvath picked up his second goal of the game. The tally on the powerplay was the second such goal for Marshall in the game.

With the win over the Cardinals, the Tigers have a season-long three-game win streak going. After winning just one of their first six games after Christmas, the tide finally seems to be turning in Marshall’s favor.

“The wheels and cogs just started falling in place, the players are buying in more and more and we just kept asking the kids to listen to us,” Coudert said of Marshall’s recent string of success. “They’re fully grasping what we want them to do, which is keep it simple, and simple wins games.”

Quieting the positive vibes after the win, however, was an injury sustained by Zerr. After receiving a devastating check by Redwood Valley’s Chris Hallden, Zerr was helped off the ice and did not return to the game.

The Tigers will likely be without one of their senior captains as they look to extend their streak to four wins in a row when they host the Fairmont Cardinals in their next contest. With a 1 p.m. scheduled start time, Saturday’s contest is the last Tiger home game until their Feb. 12 season finale.