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Boys hockey stays perfect

Hudson's Bennett Schrank (16) tries to get his stick on a loose puck in the crease in the first period of the top-ranked Raider boys hockey team's showdown with fourth-ranked Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Jan. 4, at Gornick Arena. Schrank scored a goal later in the period to give Hudson a 3-0 lead and the Raiders went on to a 7-4 victory. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson's Grady Gornick (7) watches his shot hit the back of the net for the first goal of the game in the Raiders' 7-4 victory over Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Jan. 4, at Gornick Arena. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

The top-ranked Raider boys hockey team had just beaten No. 2 Eau Claire Memorial, 7-4, Thursday, Jan. 4, at Gornick Arena to improve to 11-0 on the season. So what did head coach Brooks Lockwood do?

He sat down with his assistant coaches and came up with a list of things the Raiders need to do better.

Hudson jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the Old Abes in a showdown between the top two teams in the state only to see Memorial pull to within two, 6-4, late in the third period. Peyton Hanson's empty-netter sealed both his hat trick and the outcome, keeping Hudson at No. 1 in this week's state coaches poll while dropping Eau Claire Memorial to No. 5.

Lockwood felt it was a good win for the program, but?

"We also found some things that we need to work on," he said.

Hudson started with a bang when Grady Gornick redirected a Jordan Halverson centering pass from the corner over Old Abe goalie Trevor Hudacek's shoulder just 1 minute, 6 seconds into the game.

Jack Flattum scored off an assist from Cole Danielson at the 11:05 mark before Bennett Schrank blasted a shot from the top of the left circle into the back of the net 23 seconds later to make it a 3-0 game. Hanson and Gornick picked up assists on the play.

Hanson struck twice in a two-minute span midway through the second period with Gornick assisting on both goals and just like that Hudson had a 5-0 lead.

Lockwood credited assistant coach Dean Talafous for the Raiders' early surge.

"One, I think it's the players we have and two, Coach Talafous always emphasizes getting the guys mentally prepared for each game and each period so a lot of the credit goes to him," Lockwood said. "We've been able to get off to good starts all year and keep carrying that over."

Memorial made it a 5-1 game at the end of two and scored the first goal of the third period before Gornick scored at the 11:44 mark, with assists from Hanson and Halverson, to extend Hudson's lead to 6-2.

But the Old Abes wouldn't go away and scored the next two goals to make it a 6-4 game with 2:18 remaining before Hanson's third goal of the game into an empty net made the final 7-4.

Lockwood said the Raiders may have let their guard down a little after taking a 5-0 lead, but Memorial also has the talent to come back from such a deficit.

"I think it was a little bit of both, but they are a really good hockey team," he said. "They weren't going to back down and they wanted us to know they'll be ready when we see them again."

The Raiders and Old Abes won't meet again until Feb. 6 in Eau Claire. Hudson's immediate challenges will come this week at Chippewa Falls Tuesday, Jan. 9, home against River Falls Thursday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. and home against eighth-ranked Waukesha Saturday, Jan. 13, at 3 p.m.

Which brings Lockwood back to his list.

"We came up with a list of things we need to improve on after the Memorial game and I think we just need to work on those things and make sure that by Sunday we're a better team than we are today," he said.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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