Woodbury topped Cretin-Derham Hall for the third straight time on Thursday, Dec. 8, stretching its win streak over the Raiders across two seasons.
The 3-2 victory at Bielenberg Ice Arena in Woodbury was due to third-period heroics from junior Jordan Graham, playing in his first varsity season.
With 7 minutes, 32 seconds remaining, Graham punched in a goal that sent his team and the home crowd into a frenzy.
Although the Royals (4-0-1) had appeared sluggish at points during the game, Graham’s goal injected energy onto the bench allowing the Royals to clamp down on defense for the victory.
The win was still sweet for Graham, even though he wasn’t there the first two times the Royals defeated the Raiders (1-2).
“This is one of our biggest games of the year, it feels great to beat them,” he said. “Outworking them, outplaying them, it was great.”
Making the transition from junior-varsity contributor to the big time hasn’t seemed to faze Graham much, who has two goals in five games. An explosive player on the ice, Graham noted that his best attribute is his speed, and that he worked on it all summer to prepare for the better competition.
Graham said that speed been the hardest part of adjusting to varsity, but his performance so far hasn’t suggested much difficulty.
“He had a great year on the JV team last year,” Woodbury coach Wes Bolin said. “He’s very coachable, hardworking, and he’s got a couple goals for us here in the last couple of games. Good energy, that’s what we like.”
Last season, Woodbury lost 3-2 in the quarterfinals ofthe Section 3AA playoffs to Hastings. The Royals are intent on advancing past that point this year. Graham knew there were lessons to take away from Thursday’s game that will be necessary to make the next step.
“We just gotta start playing all three periods,” he said. “We played two good ones mostly. Gotta play three.”
As for what he could do to make that happen, he was in agreement with his coach.
“Just be a hard worker, keep up the energy on the bench and try and get some goals here and there,” he said.
The energy that both he and Bolin mentioned emanates from Graham, who answers questions just like he plays on the ice. Fast, and in short bursts.
“It’s insane. Undefeated still. Insane. I love it.”
In a Dec. 8 matchup at Bielenberg Ice Arena in Woodbury, the home Royals managed to stay undefeated in a back and forth affair, pulling out a 3-2 victory over Cretin-Derham Hall.
The Royals (4-0-1) got out shot 38-17 but found the net when it mattered, behind the stick of junior forward Jordan Graham. With 7:32 left in the game, Graham netted the winner off of a pass from senior Tyler Tuneberg to put Woodbury up for good.
The Raiders got the scoring started to begin the first period when junior Patrick Cullen found a beautiful feed in front of the net from senior Dominic Netti and stuffed home the first goal of the game. Junior Kendall Bolen-Porter also assisted on the play.
Woodbury, however, did not let the goal get to them and they answered late in the first. Senior forward Evan Erickson dashed along the wing and found the five-hole of CDH goalie Alex Bailey to tie the score at one. Chase Myers-Beck, and Joey Lindberg both assisted on his goal.
In the second period,the Royals got on the board first when junior Ford Pendleton snagged a back door feed from seniorTanner Antolak, and tapped the puck home. Cretin tied up the game later in the second when Luke Dietsch found space between the pipes off of an assist from Jack Stang.
Despite getting outshot so badly, the game was mostly even, and both teams had plenty of odd-man rushes and lots of scoring chances.