Frame it any way you want, but one thing after four games was clear: The Dakota Ridge Eagles were struggling mightily to score goals.
Their scoring was so bone dry that after 180 minutes of play, the Eagles had tallied just a single goal.
So, when the Eagles managed to score just 17 seconds into their game against rival Chatfield, you had a feeling that the Eagles’ scoring drought was about to become a distant memory.
It was, thanks to three more goals that propelled Dakota Ridge to a rather surprising 4-1 victory Dec. 17 at the Edge Ice Arena.
“I told the guys after the game that they can be the best in the league on any given day if they put forth that effort,” said Dakota Ridge coach Brock Anundson.
The Eagles did play hard and you could see their confidence growing as the game went on.
After taking a 1-0 lead into the second period, the Eagles increased their advantage to 3-0 thanks to goals by Taylor Markowski and Joey Bishop.
Dakota Ridge goalie Anthony Farraco-Hadlock fed off his teammates’ improved offensive play and kept the Chargers off the scoreboard until Jack Krowl scored with 21 seconds left to play.
Farraco-Hadlock made the difficult saves look easy and the easy saves look routine in what was an all-around splendid effort. He came up with a great save early in the first period and in the second period, turned back a Chatfield 3-on-0 attack.
“The defense did a good job in front of me,” Farraco-Hadlock said. “I was able to see pretty much every shot that came my way.”
He was also able to finally see his team put some pucks away, a welcome change indeed.
“Man, we were so fired up going into the last period,” Farraco-Hadlock said. “Usually you have to guard against a letdown when you are up two or three goals but for us, because we had been struggling to score, we just gained so much confidence from those goals.”
Dakota Ridge opened up the game with a goal in the opening 20 seconds. Markowski was the beneficiary of the Eagles’ hard work as he batted in a loose puck in front of the Chatfield net for the game’s first goal.
Markowski put the Eagles up 2-0 in the second period as he wristed a shot over Chatfield goalie Matt Smith’s right shoulder. Joey Bishop made the score 3-0 as he batted in a rebound.
The Eagles pushed the advantage to 4-0 when Fonte Anthony scored an empty-net goal with 3:58 to play.
Chatfield routinely skated into the Dakota Ridge zone and generated a lot of good scoring chances but were unable to finish them off, thanks in large part to the play of Farraco-Hadlock.
“This was a big win for us, for sure,” Anundson said. “Hopefully we can gain confidence from it.”
Dakota Ridge finished up the first part of its schedule on Dec. 21 with a game against another rival school, Columbine. See the Dec. 30 edition of the Columbine Courier for a complete report.