Jake Ross said that the pressure to get into the postseason isn’t occupying the Dakota Ridge Eagles’ minds, but you know that it’s there. They know that it’s there. They can almost taste it. And barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Eagles will make their playoff debut in 2014.
Behind goals from Ross and defenseman Graehm Konsella, Dakota Ridge punched out a 2-1 victory over rival Chatfield on Feb. 1 at the Edge Ice Arena. The win was the Eagles’ third in four days, fourth in a row and fifth in six games. But maybe none loomed larger and was sweeter than this one.
“All of our wins are so much needed,” said Konsella, who tied the game at 1-all in the second period after Brian Vits had given the Chargers the early lead. “This is a big two points for us to help us move up into the standings. We don’t want to drop down to a lower seed. The two points definitely helped.”
The win secured a sweep of Chatfield as Dakota Ridge (11-3-4, 17 points Foothills Conference) won the previous non-conference meeting 4-2 on Dec. 5. The Eagles are all but guaranteed a playoff berth with one game remaining — a Feb. 12 matchup with Battle Mountain.
“In the past, we’ve lost to (Chatfield) a lot,” said Ross, who scored the game-winning goal early in the third period off an assist from Reed Hoogenboom. “They’re a huge competitor; it’s a huge rivalry. It feels great to beat them.”
Goaltender Jeff Hart made 17 saves for Dakota Ridge.
Though Chatfield (5-10, eight points) has now lost four straight and five of six, the Chargers played more like the team that’s been a perennial playoff contender than an afterthought in the first two periods of this one.
“The coaching staff and I knew that we’d have our hands full tonight,” Dakota Ridge head coach Alec Hines said. “If we get into the box and get into penalty trouble, our kids are scrambling there. We knew what (Chatfield) was doing (on its power-play goal), but we didn’t execute on the penalty kill. They got one early, and our boys woke up in the second (period) and finished in the third. The third, I thought, was our strongest period.”
Dakota Ridge outshot Chatfield 30-18, but behind 28 saves from Cody Trujillo, the Chargers were in this one until the finish
“Every time we play Dakota Ridge, no matter who the better team is, it’s always going to be a tight, tight hard-fought game. It was just that tonight,” Chatfield head coach Mark Glombecki said. “It’s been a tough year. The puck doesn’t seem to be bouncing for us right.”
Because of that, the Chargers (5-10, eight points) find themselves in a battle with Resurrection Christian (nine points) and Standley Lake (eight) for the final playoff spot out of the Foothills Conference. The most Chatfield can score is 14 points in league play with three conference games left, including a crucial showdown with rival Columbine on Feb. 7.
“We’ve got to get that game with Columbine,” Glombecki said.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.