By Shane Frederick
---- — MANKATO — The Mankato West boys hockey team's season got off to a late start with the first game of the season taking place Tuesday night, three days into December and more than a week after most teams got going.
Starved to play a real game after three weeks of practice and scrimmages, the Scarlets exploded onto the All Seasons Arena ice against rival Mankato East/Loyola.
Derek Frentz scored the game's first goal just 29 seconds after the opening faceoff, and West rolled to a 9-1 Big Nine Conference victory.
"We've been practicing so long," said senior forward Nick Campbell, who took the initial shot that Frentz backhanded back in. "It was nice to get that first shift out of the way and get a goal right way. ... We wanted to get a hot start."
Frentz finished with two goals and three assists, and Campbell had a goal and four assists. Eight different Scarlets scored goals and 10 had at least one point.
"I think our start was: Three weeks of practice; it's about time we played a game," Scarlets coach Curtis Doell said. "The guys were excited and ready to go. That's what we have to do game in and game out. Send a message."
Less than 3 minutes into the game, West had a 2-0 lead after Dylan Leivermann put back the rebound of a Frentz shot.
As if the Scarlets' speed and skill advantage weren't enough during even-strength play, they got a 5-minute power play to work with midway through the opening period. Max Mettler, Cole Filler and Frentz scored during the major penalty for a 5-0 lead.
"For them to get a 5-minute penalty, we wanted to capitalize and bury them right away," Campbell said.
The Cougars didn't back away, however, and they got on the board before the period ended on a nice 2-on-1 play. Brandon Treinen scored the goal, tapping in a saucer pass from Brad Johnson over a diving defender with 1:43 remaining. Logan Lebert also assisted on the play.
East/Loyola goaltender Will Behsman battled as he faced 38 shots. Several of West's goals came on rebounds.
"Frentz could have had five or six goals tonight," Doell said. "Will played really well and gave them a chance to compete."
The second period went back and forth for about seven minutes, but the Scarlets couldn't be contained for long. Cain Grimm and Kyle Looft scored goals 1:52 apart midway through the period, and Campbell added a power-play goal to increase West's lead to 8-1 by the second intermission.
Galt Goettl scored the lone goal of the third period, which was played with running time.
Goettl and Mettler each finished with a goal and two assists.
West goaltender Jake Spiess stopped 6 of 7 shots for the victory.
West (1-0-0) will host Austin on Thursday. East/Loyola (1-2-0) will host Winona on Friday.