Lake Tahoe Blue swept at Southern Oregon; teams combine for 151 penalty minutes in series finale
MEDFORD, Ore. — The Lake Tahoe Blue hockey club needed to maintain its composure in order to succeed in a two-game series against physical-minded Southern Oregon — and couldn’t do it both nights. The Blue were swept by the Spartans at the RRRink, including a sloppy, penalty-filled contest last Saturday that led to a 10-1 defeat.
“They have one line that can be dangerous, and the other three are ‘ground and pound’ and try to hurt you,” Blue head coach Mike Richardson said. “We fell into the trap of what they wanted to do.”
In Friday’s series opener, Lake Tahoe lost to Southern Oregon 5-3. The Blue held a one-goal lead after two periods, but the Spartans scored three unanswered goals in the third period — the last two came on the power play.
“We had the lead going into the third and Southern Oregon tied it up on a good, hard goal — as soon as that happened, we fell apart mentally,” Richardson said. “We took some unnecessary penalties that ended up hurting us.”
Forward Alexander Lobachev scored for Lake Tahoe late in the first period off an assist from forward Kristers Seps to tie the game 1-1. Southern Oregon struck first in the second period, but the Blue answered with two goals in the last four minutes of the frame to take a 3-2 lead.
With 3:58 left in the second period, Lake Tahoe forward Connor Melton scored off assists from defenseman Hunter Lovdokken and forward Sheamus Stoyle to tie the game. In the last minute of the period, Blue forward David Raus gave the team its first lead with a goal off an assist from forward Julius Bauermeister.
Goaltender Michael Cowell got his first start of the season for Lake Tahoe in Friday’s loss. Cowell made 44 stops against the Spartans.
On Saturday, the Blue failed to established their game plan — and what resulted was a contest that saw a combined 151 penalty minutes. On the scoreboard, Southern Oregon completed a sweep with a 10-1 victory.
“I’m disappointed in the way the game was conducted,” Richardson said.
“We were not ready to battle in the way that Southern Oregon came to battle that night. The score is what it is, but I’m disappointed in the fact that we didn’t answer the bell.”
Lobachev scored Lake Tahoe’s only goal in the loss, finding the back of the net on a power play goal in the second period off assists from forwards Vladislav Polyashov and Raus. The second and third period featured multiple fights as Southern Oregon pulled away — in the third period, Blue goaltender Nick Bretzger and Spartans netminder Tyler Van Vliet got into a fight that resulted in their mutual ejection.
“That was a new experience for us. Southern Oregon is a very chippy team — they like to muck things up, and that’s their style and identity,” Richardson said. “We could never get our game established — we know it, we’re to blame for it, we’re fixing it and it will never happen again.”
Multiple suspensions came from Saturday’s contest. For Lake Tahoe, Breztger, defenseman Nick Bakey and forward Aksel Friberg were each suspended a game — three Southern Oregon players were also suspended one game apiece.
“We knew what they were capable of doing if they were able to execute that system — and they did it,” Richardson said. “They went after some of our top guys.”
After last weekend’s series, Lake Tahoe (4-15-1-0) currently sits at the bottom of the WSHL Northwest Division standings with nine points. The Blue’s next four division games come against second-place Southern Oregon — including a two-game series at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena Dec. 5-6.
“We’re lucky that we have a break this weekend — we’re enjoying some time to recharge our batteries,” Richardson said. “We’re embarrassed about what happened — we’re going to come out and work to win.”
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