In only its second game of the season, D-East (1-0-1) faced its first tough opponent, and it showed as the players threw as many shots as they could without cracking either Ridley’s (1-0-1) defense or goaltender, Brendahn Brawley.
“(Ridley’s) defense makes their goalie look tough,” said D-East coach Dave Hendricks. “They do a great job clogging the middle. They have great team defense. They don’t win because they have a goaltender, they win because they have a defense that makes a goaltender look better than he is.”
Things seemed to be going the Cougars’ way in the first as they held control of the game for most of the period, though they didn’t score.
The second, however, changed things when Ridley’s Nick Catona scored on the power play just over a minute in and then two of D-East’s players went down back-to-back with injuries.
“It threw our lines off a little bit, but you just have to work with it and can’t let that really bother you,” said forward Jack Magee.
D-East didn’t let those factors stop them, even though it still struggled to find the back of the net.
“There’s a back-and-forth and the momentum and stuff like that, then they lose two guys that early,” Hendricks said. “They go into survival mode. They don’t go into panic mode, but survival mode. It’s one thing to trap and it’s another thing to work your way out of a hole.”
Frustration may have begun to creep in slowly as the time ticked away in the game, but Max McAllister’s shot from the blue line finally broke through Brawley with just under five minutes left in the game.
“It was getting later in the game and we saw we were running out of time and we still didn’t have a goal even though we had so many chances,” Magee said. “We at least got a lucky bounce, it looked like, that tied it up.”
Though D-East came away with the point from the tie, Magee felt that his team should have had the two points.
“I feel like we should have won the game, but I give them credit,” he said. “They played well against us. Monday wasn’t really a test for us, but this was kind of like our first test. Maybe we needed that.”
His coach, however, is very happy with the way his team played under the tough circumstances.
“Two key guys went down with an injury in the beginning of the second – I give the kids credit,” Hendricks said. “They battled back completely running with two lines. They showed nothing but heart and at the end, they fought back.”
He’s especially impressed that they were able to do it with a young team that continues to learn game by game.
“They’re still young,” Hendricks said. “I only have three seniors on the regular roster. They’re still learning every bit of the way and they’re still growing. Half these kids still haven’t finished puberty yet. They get better every single day.”