Lake Tahoe Blue swept at Southern Oregon to start second half |

Lake Tahoe Blue swept at Southern Oregon to start second half

Anthony Gentile
Lake Tahoe forward Vladislav Polyashov scored a goal in the Blue’s 3-2 loss at Southern Oregon last Saturday. Polyashov has 14 goals this season, the third-best mark on the team.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |


Lake Tahoe Blue vs. Missoula

Jan. 23-25 at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena

Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.

MEDFORD, Ore. — The Lake Tahoe Blue hockey club started the second half of the 2014-15 season the way it wanted — just not with the results it wanted. The Blue suffered a pair of close defeats to Southern Oregon in a two-game series last Friday and Saturday at The Rrrink as their push for the postseason began.

“Southern Oregon is a good hockey team and we brought it — those were not easy wins for them,” Blue head coach Mike Richardson said. “We didn’t get the points but we played good hockey.”

In the series opener last Friday, Lake Tahoe fell to Southern Oregon 4-0. The Blue trailed 2-0 at the end of the second period, and the Spartans put the game away with a pair of goals in the last three minutes of the third period.

“I was impressed with how the guys came into the game off the break — it was the first time we played in two or three weeks,” Richardson said. “We had a lot of energy, a lot of jump and we had a good start to the game.

“It was a good, fast hockey game.”

The Blue had more chances than Southern Oregon in each of the first two periods of the series opener, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Lake Tahoe goaltender Nick Bretzger made 36 saves in the loss.

The following night, the Blue fell to the Spartans 3-2. All the scoring took place in the second period as Lake Tahoe suffered a fourth straight defeat.

“We wanted the points, but if you take care of the process all the time and those points are going to start coming,” Richardson said.

Blue forward Vladislav Polyashov opened the scoring early in the second period, scoring his 12th goal of the season on the power play off assists from forwards David Raus and Julius Bauermeister. Southern Oregon responded with three consecutive goals — Lake Tahoe forward Alexander Lobachev scored with five seconds left in the frame to make it 3-2.

“I was happy with our guys and how hard we worked — now it’s just about bringing that kind of effort all the time,” Richardson said. “To have a chance to compete, we have to work that hard.”

Lake Tahoe reported back for the second half of the season on Monday, Jan. 5. The Blue treated the days leading up to its series at Southern Oregon as a mini-training camp.

“We got back in the habit of working and we had a lot of system work,” Richardson said. “What we executed well in the little training camp, we were doing in the games.”

The Blue signed defenseman Julian Davis on Jan. 5, and the Canadian provided impact in his first series. Richardson said Davis brought stability to Lake Tahoe’s defense.

“It was truly the first time all year that we had a lot of confidence on the back end,” Richardson said. “Julian brought that — he has very good vision, he’s very patient and you hardly noticed when he made a mistake because he quickly made up for it.”

Lake Tahoe completed two more transactions earlier this week. The Blue acquired forward Nikita Velmakin from San Diego in exchange for forward Edgardo Cambari Arroyo and defenseman Erik Hayes on Tuesday; two days later they got forward Igor Stibysh and defenseman Luke Erickson from Casper in a three-way trade that sent Lobachev to Springfield.

The Blue currently sit seventh in the WSHL Northwest Division standings with 12 points (5-21-2-0). Lake Tahoe is one spot behind Seattle for the division’s last playoff spot — the team’s goal moving forward is to reach the postseason.

“I’m happy with where we are as a team and as a hockey club — and I don’t think anyone is fully aware of how good we are,” Richardson said. “People might look at the record and not be as prepared as they need to be when we play them.

“We’re going to make the playoffs.”

Lake Tahoe returns to action Friday, Jan. 23, when it hosts Missoula in a three-game series at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena. Friday and Saturday’s games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. — the puck drops for Sunday’s series finale at 2 p.m.

“It’s fun playing in this town and it’s fun playing in front of these fans — we’re jacked and we’ll be ready,” Richardson said.

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