by Jared Hines
Contributing Sports Reporter
The Rogers girls’ hockey team was in an unfamiliar position after the first period of the team’s 4-1 win over the North Wright County Riverhawks on Jan. 10.
Although the Royals outshot the Riverhawks 9-5 after 17 minutes of play, they trailed 1-0. 12:05 into the first period. Riverhawks senior Paige Jensen was able to knock in her first goal of the year, squeezing it past Royals goalie Hailey Hartlage.
Fortunately for the Royals, it would be the only goal Hartlage would allow the rest of the game.
“Wesloh has been pushing the theme of changing the culture lately and I think everyone is really buying into it,” Royals senior Kaitlynn Lloyd said. “That is helping us work together more as a team.”
The score stayed 1-0 until 11:04 in the second period when Madi Chapman found Paetyn Levis for a goal to tie it up. The goal for Levis was No. 32 on the season, tying her total from the 2015-16 season where she led the team in goals. Chapman has seven points in the team’s last six games and is tied for the team-lead in assists with 14.
Under two minutes later, Jenna Hatcher scored the eventual game-winning goal off an assist from Dani Hoppe. The goal was Hatcher’s third of the year and the first assist of the season for Hoppe. The goal helped emphasize coach Joel Wesloh’s plan of trying to get goals from all his lines, making each one dangerous for opponents.
“I think people are stepping up and realizing that we need to win as a team and not rely on a few people to get all of our points for us,” Lloyd said. “Wesloh has also been trying to get us to crash the net harder lately and that’s how we scored two of our goals tonight.”
Lloyd scored one of the two insurance goals in the third period to secure the victory on Tuesday night, wrapping the puck around her stick and quickly turned to face the goalie all in one motion. By the time Anna LaRose saw the puck, the goal horn was already ringing in her ears. The final goal was No. 33 from Levis, a swift backhand from right to left that she was able to push past LaRose late in the third period. Levis is tied for third in the state for goals and fourth in the state in total points (47).
Rogers (13-4-1) is 6-1 in the conference, currently leading Princeton and Buffalo by a slim margin. The Royals next game is on Jan. 17 against Chisago Lakes (5-11).
“We just have to live by the motto of working hard every day and taking it game by game,” Lloyd said after the victory. “I think we are going to focus on coming out strong in all of our games and never letting our opponents think they have a chance.”