By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
If not for the fleet feet of Derek Frentz, the Mankato West boys hockey team would have been big trouble on Thursday night at All Seasons Arena.
The junior forward’s hustle led directly to a pair of momentum-changing goals in the final minutes of the first and second periods, and West went on to defeat Faribault 5-4 in a Big Nine Conference game.
“(Frentz) was unbelievable tonight,” Scarlets coach Curtis Doell said. “That’s probably the best game I’ve seen him play since he’s been at Mankato West — at both ends of the ice, too. He controlled the game when the puck was on his stick.”
Frentz finished with two goals, including the game-winner, and three assists, and linemate Galt Goettl scored two goals and had two assists.
“Our No. 1 line is why we’re winning hockey games,” Doell said.
With Faribault leading 2-1 in the closing moments of the first period, Frentz won a race to a loose puck near the Falcons goal line and then pushed a perfect centering pass to Goettl. Goettl tucked a close-range backhander under the crossbar with 37.2 seconds showing on the clock.
The Falcons went ahead 3-2 in the second period, but in the final minute Frentz got loose on a breakaway. He was pulled down by a defender for what would have been a sure penalty shot, but he ended up scoring on the play with just 43.7 seconds to go.
“I got it on my backhand and saw (goalie Cody Morsching’s) five-hole open up,” Frentz said. “I just slid it in while I was being hauled down. It was a nice pass from Scott McKissick to get it up to me.”
Asked about his confidence in taking a penalty shot had he missed, Frentz said, “I’ll just take the goal.”
From there, West controlled play in the third period and received goals from McKissick and Frentz to go up 5-3. McKissick finished with a goal and two assists.
“We had a rough start, but it was good to get the team going,” Frentz said. “We came out hard (in the third period). It should have been like that the whole time.
“We played well. I’m glad the guys came out and worked hard in the third.”
As for Goettl, he now has 13 goals in seven games.
“It’s great having Galt on a line,” Frentz said. “He just has that natural ability to find the back of the net.”
Jake Spiess got the win in goal, making 15 saves. He also had an assist on McKissick’s goal. West had 32 shots on net.
Cody Colegrove scored two power-play goals for Faribault. Brandon Gray and Riley Jandro had the other Falcons goals. Jandro’s goal cut West’s two-goal lead to one with 49.5 seconds left in the game.
The Scarlets (6-1-0) will play Saturday at Rochester John Marshall.