All in all, it was a solid opening weekend for the Havre Ice Hawks high school hockey program.
To open up the season, the Ice Hawks played two games at the Havre Ice Dome in Havre on Saturday. They earned the 1-1 split at home against the visiting Glasgow Ice Dawgs, all while doing a lot of things right, as well as finding some areas to improve upon moving forward. In a dominating morning performance the Ice Hawks took game one 5-1. But in Saturday’s evening game the Ice Dawgs defeated Havre 6-4.
“I liked that we controlled the puck a lot more, we spread things out more, and we used our defense points man to screw up their goalie by getting in front of him,” Ice Hawks’ second-year head coach Scott Gunderson said. “Those were all areas we were focused on this weekend. But the difference in the two games that I saw was that from the first period, the first drop of the puck, we weren’t mentally ready to play that second game. That is something we have to work on because we have to be mentally ready to play every single game.”
And the Ice Hawks showed what they are capable if mentally ready and firing on all cylinders in the 5-1 win.
Havre put up 42 shots in the three periods and jumped all over the Ice Dawgs with three goals in the first period. Nick Howell scored on a Jon Stoner and Kyle Konesky assist at the 15:39 mark, while Justin Miller scored on a Dustin Armstrong assist at the 15:06 mark, and Trevor Jensen scored on a Brandon Huntington assist at the 11:55 mark. But the Ice Hawks weren’t done as they added one more goal in the second and one more goal in the third period just for good measure. Miller scored his second goal on a Ned Malone and Dane Linquist assist with 4:26 left in the second period, and Howell added his second goal on a Caleb McLain and Alex Hanson assist with 11:28 left in the third period. Howell’s third period goal came on a power play.
The Ice Hawks also committed 12 penalties, three in the first period, five in the second, and four in the third. But with a solid defensive effort, the Ice Hawks allowed just the one goal while Josh Emge opened the season strong. Emge had 36 saves.
Coach Gunderson credits the win to the strong defensive effort, as well as the Ice Hawks passing the puck well, always looking for the open man, and playing solid, all-around team hockey with everybody stepping up and doing their job. That wasn’t the case in the second meeting, as the Ice Hawks fell behind early on in the first period and never managed to overtake the Ice Dawgs.
Both teams scored very early in the first period, and after Havre’s unassisted goal by Armstrong at the 15:04 mark, the game was tied at 1-1. But the Ice Dawgs were fired up to face the Ice Hawks after the tough loss, and posted two more first-period goals to take a 3-1 lead over Havre heading into the second period.
“I think we could have come back and won if we didn’t get in such a big hole to start,” Gunderson said. “Our defense would step down too much, and when you are trailing, you can’t take that many chances. You have to get back out, so it was really just too many mistakes when playing from behind.”
After falling behind in the first period, the Ice Hawks did keep battling, but everytime Havre would get within one point, Glasgow would score soon after, stretching the lead back to two goals, and keeping the Ice Hawks at bay.
Havre's Caleb McLain handles the puck during Saturday's game in Havre.
The Ice Hawks cut the lead to 3-2 in the second period, but then trailed 4-2 less than a minute later. Havre then trailed 5-3 late in the second period before a Huntington goal, assisted by Blake Hanson, at the 16:32 mark of the third perioed shaved the deficit back to 5-4. The Ice Hawks pulled Emge out of the goal with 1:19 left to play as they trailed 6-4, but couldn’t manage to score in the final minutes of the game.
The first second-period goal came from Stoner, assisted by Howell and Linquist with 15:07 left to play and on a power play. The second came by Armstrong at the 8:03 mark and was assisted by Malone. And despite the six goals, Emge also had a decent outing as he came up with another 33 saves. The Ice Hawks took 35 shots and had another seven penalties as they got out to a 1-1 start to the new season.
Havre is off until Dec. 6-7 when the Ice Hawks will return to the Havre Ice Dome for three more games. On Dec. 6, the Ice Hawks will face Great Falls and Butte, and Saturday the Ice Hawks will face Missoula. On Dec. 8 the Ice Hawks will face Missoula in Missoula.