By Drew Lyon
Special to The Free Press
Although Tuesday was senior night for the Mankato West boys hockey team, it was the underclassmen who provided most of the scoring.
Six different Scarlets scored, including two from junior center Derek Frentz, in a 7-2 win Tuesday over Le Sueur-Henderson/St. Peter/Tri-City United in a nonconference game at All Seasons Arena.
“It’s always special when you get to play your last regular season home game and come out with a big win,” Mankato West head coach Curtis Doell said. “Everyone came out ready to play and wanted to get that ‘W’ for our seniors.”
Twenty-seven seconds after the first puck drop, junior forward Nick Campbell started the scoring for the Scarlets on a rebound goal after a blue-line shot from Scott McKissick. The Bulldogs answered five minutes later, when the Scarlets failed to clear their zone and Luke Regner’s backhanded pass from behind the net found an open Brett Zallek to even the score at 1.
The Scarlets regained the lead at the 8:47 mark, with a series of crisp passes: Frentz to Galt Goettl, who passed to Campbell, then back to Frentz for the goal. Ninth-grade forward Tyler Loe added a power-play goal later in the period to put West ahead 3-1 after one period.
“I thought we came out flying on all cylinders,” Doell said. “We focused in, and after letting up the first goal, we took care of business.”
Thirty seconds into a pivotal second period, West widened the lead when Frentz’s shot — assisted by Campbell and Max Mettler — sneaked past Bulldogs goaltender Chris Amsden. Goettl followed with a rebound goal before Zallek scored his second goal of the game to cut the deficit to 5-2.
In the final four minutes of the period, West scored two more goals, one from Cole Filler and a power-play score from Zachary Erickson.
“I thought we played one of our best second periods of the season,” Doell said. “That’s been a focal point of ours; our second periods have been a struggle for us, but tonight we made it a strength.”
In a scoreless third period, the Scarlets killed three penalties. Jake Spiess earned the win for the Scarlets, saving 10 shots and improving his season record to 7-3. West finished with 40 shots on goal.
“It was a good win for us,” Doell said. “We did the little things right. It was a great team effort from all four of our lines, and our goaltender did his job as well.”
With only three games left in the regular season, Doell hopes his squad is playing its best hockey as the Scarlets (18-4-1) prepare for a critical road game Thursday against Big Nine Conference-leading Rochester Mayo. If Mankato beats Mayo, and wins its final two games against Owatonna and Faribault, it will need only one more loss from Mayo to clinch a share of the conference championship.
“It’s that time of the season when you got to be at the top of your game.” he said. “Thursday’s a huge game for us, and I think the guys are pretty excited.”
The Bulldogs (9-11-1) play Friday at home versus Waseca.