Dakota Ridge scratches out a win over Columbine

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By Brian Forbes

Aside from having a stylish mullet, hockey commentator and former NHL coach Barry Melrose has some sage advice.

One of his favorites: Throw the puck on net and good things will happen.

Eric Jones and the Dakota Ridge Eagles couldn’t agree more.

With less than two minutes remaining in a tie game with rival Columbine, Jones snapped a slow-moving puck at the net Feb. 2 and placed it perfectly over the shoulder of Rebels goalie Michael McCuaig to light the lamp.

“It was a terrible shot,” Jones admitted.

It was, however, enough for the Eagles as they dropped the Rebels 4-3 in a Class 5A Foothills League game, reversing the score of their previous meeting in December.

Dakota Ridge (3-4Foothills League, 5-10 overall) was the aggressor most the evening at The Edge Ice Arena and seemed to have an answer for anything the hard-luck Rebels could muster.

Lee Foley had a goal and an assist for the Eagles, who also got two assists each from Derek Hanson and Nate Denbow.

The Rebels (0-8, 3-12-1) got two goals from defenseman Joe Frechette, including an unassisted power-play goal with 6:05 remaining to tie the game 3-3.

Corey Kline nearly gave Columbine its first lead of the night with 1:53 remaining when he settled the puck and got off a shot at close range that was saved by Eagles goalie Bobby Willey.

Dakota Ridge coach Brock Anundson called a timeout, settled his crew and watched as they settled the game 20 seconds later.

“I told them to get it out quick and get on the attack,” Anundson said.

The shot from a seemingly bad angle along the boards on the right side appeared to catch McCuaig by surprise.

The Rebels outshot the Eagles 22-17 as Willey finished with 19 saves.

The Eagles were buzzing early and moving though the neutral zone with pace and purpose as the Rebels were again doomed to a slow start. Gordon Nytes scored with 8:01 remaining in the first period as he got free down the right side, surged past defender Doug Collins and beat McCuaig.

“If we could play a scrimmage game before the real game, we’d be motivated,” Rebels coach Jeff Marten said.

Frechette tied the game on the power play with a low slapper from inside the blue line, but the momentum lasted just 13 seconds.

The Eagles won the subsequent faceoff and Foley scored to put the Eagles up 2-1.

Zach Steerman scored two minutes later to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead they would take into the third period.

Jacob Wildenberg sparked Columbine’s rally when he carried the puck into the zone and tried to stuff the puck in from the left side. Wildenberg batted the puck back to center where Blake Hostetler put it home seven minutes before Frechette scored his second goal of the game to tie it 3-3.

Both teams rebounded from uglier games the previous evening.

Dakota Ridge was routed 10-1 by Summit on Feb. 1 and Columbine was blanked 5-0 by Regis.