Bengals bounce back from loss with 22 goals in two wins

Blaine bounced back from its first loss of the season, a 3-1 score against No. 3 ranked (Class A) East Grand Forks Dec. 13, with a pair of 11-0 Northwest Suburban Conference wins against Coon Rapids Dec. 14 and Robbinsdale Armstrong Dec. 19.

The loss to East Grand Forks came in the middle of a three games in as many days stretch at Fogerty Arena; the Bengals had beaten Anoka 6-1 Dec. 12.

Blaine senior defenseman Zach Wylie, right, fires a shot from the point while Robbinsdale Armstrong’s Cole Goergen tries to block the shot early into an 11-0 Bengals win at Fogerty Arena Dec. 19.

Blaine senior defenseman Zach Wylie, right, fires a shot from the point while Robbinsdale Armstrong’s Cole Goergen tries to block the shot early into an 11-0 Bengals win at Fogerty Arena Dec. 19.
Photo by Jason Olson

Blaine led 1-0 going into the third period before East Grand Forks scored three times in a span of seven minutes.

Bengals coach Dave Aus consciously made the schedule like that to simulate the stress of a tournament situation (holiday or state).

“You learn things,” he said. “They have to take care of themselves and they can’t lay around all day Saturday.”

They also can’t continue to rely on captain Alex Copa and Ian Scheid to play 30-plus minutes unless the team is in a desperate mode, Aus said.

According to Copa, the three games in three days showed the team it needs to be mentally tough and stay positive if it wants to reach the ultimate goal of the state tournament.

“You’re going to get tired so we have to be more mentally tough than physical,” Copa said.

“No disrespect to East Grand Forks but we just didn’t very play well,” Aus said. “We had a lack of fire. We had really good days of practice Monday and Tuesday.”

Blaine senior captain Alex Copa, left, works the puck away from danger during the opening moments of an 11-0 win against Armstrong Dec. 19.

Blaine senior captain Alex Copa, left, works the puck away from danger during the opening moments of an 11-0 win against Armstrong Dec. 19.Photo by Jason Olson

The message was well received as a hard, but productive week of practice followed leading up to the Dec. 19 game.

“We have a different focus after the loss,” Copa said. “We had to have a renewed focus the next day and this week in practice we worked a lot harder and it showed tonight {Dec. 19}.”

Eight of the top nine forwards scored against Robbinsdale Armstrong.

Blaine jumped to a 2-0 lead less than 1:15 into the contest. Junior Easton Brodzinski taped in a rebound 18 seconds into the game and Zach Wylie fired a shot from the point through traffic at 1:14. Cline and Lau set up Brodzinski and Tufte and Tyler Frischmon set up Wylie.

“We just shared the puck so well tonight,” Aus said. “We’re just like everybody else unless we compete hard.”

Blaine dropped from the top spot to third in the Class AA rankings as a result of the East Grand Forks loss and the rankings, especially before Christmas, are just to give others an idea of the top teams to watch for come February into March.

Blaine senior Joey Lau, front, shields the puck away from an Elk River skater. Photo by Bill Jones

Blaine senior Joey Lau, front, shields the puck away from an Elk River skater. Photo by Bill Jones

Four of the top five scorers for Blaine are seniors with sophomore Riley Tufte producing at a very high level with 11 points (seven assists) in eight games.

Senior Tyler Cline held the team scoring lead with 20 points (14 goals) over Joey Lau’s 19 points (12 assists) and Brandon Notermann’s 15 points (10 assists).

Cline had seven points (four goals) and Lau had eight points (five assists) in the last two games.

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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