The Rochester Ice Hawks of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, Tier 3 Division, took on the Dells Ducks in a best-of-three, second round playoff series over the weekend. The first game was Friday night on the Ducks home ice, and Dells won 4-0. With the season on the line in Rochester the following night, the Ice Hawks needed a win to keep the season alive and send it back to the Ducks home rink for the deciding game in the series. Rochester came out firing shots early, but couldn’t sustain the momentum throughout the game and came up short:
The Rochester Ice Hawks played host to the Maple Grove Energy in a Minnesota Junior League hockey game Saturday night at the Rochester Olmsted Recreation Center, and it went all the way to a shootout before they found a winner.
Center ice at the Rochester Ice Arena, home of the Ice Hawks
The Ice Hawks took the Energy, the top team in the Minnesota Division of the league, into overtime after rallying from a 5-3 deficit. The Energy scored two goals in a span of 19 seconds in the third period, and momentum appeared to be shifting to Maple Grove.
Rochester’s Jake Kelly scored with 9 minutes left in the third period to knock it down to a one goal Energy lead, and Ludo Duncko tied the game at five with 36 seconds left in regulation
After a scoreless overtime period, the Energy went on to score the only shootout goal, which was the final margin of victory over the Ice Hawks.
Saturday night’s game was the second go around for the teams on Rochester’s home ice, as Maple Grove beat the Ice Hawks on their home rink back on October 18, by a 5-2 score, in a game the Energy dominated. Nick Fatis, the Ice Hawks Head Coach, said “we have a younger team this year, but they’re coming around.” Fatis said the Ice Hawks are a team “the top squads in our league won’t want to play in the first round of the playoffs.”
The team still has work to do in the defensive zone. Fatis said, “Defensively we’re still breaking down and making poor decisions with the puck, and it’s costing us.”
The team is heading to Christmas break beginning on Sunday, and it’s 7 days off for the Ice Hawks. Traditionally, Fatis said they don’t give that much time off, but he has a good group of kids this year, and there have been no problems on or off the ice this season.
Fatis said the break comes at a good time, because “we’re really dinged up.” He said the Ice Hawks return to practice on December 29.
The Ice Hawks listen to post game comments from Head Coach Nick Fatis
According to their Wikipedia page, the Rochester Ice Hawks are Tier 3 members of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League. On it’s league website, the MnJHL describes itself as a “college preparatory league.”
The league is intended for players 16-20, and the goal is for players to improve their skills enough to move up through Tiers 2 and 1, and then advance to play on the collegiate level.
The Ice Hawks website says home games and practices take place at the Rochester Olmstead Recreation Center, which seats 2,600 people. Rochester was recently selected as the host site for the 2013 National Championship Tournament, which takes place at the end of the regular season.
Here is the complete post game interview with Coach Nick Fatis: