by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Rogers hockey team has met both conference goals — to win their second straight title, and to become the first Mississippi 8 team to go unbeaten in conference.
Bryan Jungels and Zach Hnath each had the hat trick as the Rogers Royals thumped St. Michael-Albertville 7-2 home on Thursday to cap an 11-0 conference season.
The Royals went 11-0 with Monticello the second place team at 7-3-1.
“We wanted to sweep the conference, which no team has done before,” said coach Tim Marchand.
Rogers has now won three Mississippi 8 titles, including two in a row.
Either Rogers or Buffalo has been champ each year. Winning the two Buffalo games was the key, said Marchand, even though the Bison are down this year.
“Buffalo is a huge rivalry game,” he said. “The first game was very intense and we knew going into the second game that a win would secure the M8 titlle”
Rogers won those games 2-1 and 4-1.
Marchand said it has “truly taken every individual” to achieve the success so far.
“Offensively, we have good balance of point production spread throughout the forward lines, and defensively, we have been very stingy, especially in the conference. To complement our forwards and defense, we have a tremendous goaltending tandem, who are both among the top in the state.”
The Royals gave up just 11 goals in 11 conference games with Keaton Mumm and Robby Vukelich in the nets.
Jungels, the season scoring leader, said his team expected no less.
“We thought we would win it hands down,” said Jungels. He credited “working the puck, playing good defense, and getting good goaltending every game.”
The Royals will take a 16-8-1 record into Section 5A as the No. 2 seed behind Hermantown. The Royals will open at home Tuesday, 7 p.m. against the winner of Moose Lake-Willow River vs. Legacy Christian.
Against STMA, Jungles also made two assists along with his hat trick for a total of five points.
Hnath got all three of his goals on power plays and also made an assist. Chad Miller notched the other goal plus three assists. Andrew Smith had two assists.
Mumm stopped 28 of 30 shots and STMA’s Andrew Semo stopped 37 of 44.
Brian LaValle and Thomas Junteman scored for STMA (2-7-2 conference, 11-10-4 overall).
Jungles, a junior forward and defenseman, has 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points, followed by Miller at 11-17-28.
Mississippi 8 final standings
Becker-Big Lake 0-6-0