Hungry for more wins: Tommies look to extend winning streak against Lakers

St. Thomas’ Mack Byers jaws with some Lake Superior State players during a game Nov. 26, 2022, in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

By Ryan Stieg 

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — It’s Thanksgiving weekend in a few days and the St. Thomas men’s hockey team is hungry for some more victories.  

The Tommies (6-5-1, 4-2 CCHA) have won four games in a row thanks to back-to-back sweeps over Northern Michigan and Bowling Green with the last two wins coming two weeks ago in Ohio. Looking back on that weekend during Monday’s press conference, Tommies head coach Rico Blasi said he was pleased with how things went against the Falcons.  

“Obviously, it’s always nice to come away with a couple wins on the road,” he said. “In terms of outcomes, we were really happy with that. I thought we stayed engaged in the games both nights. Obviously, some opportunistic bounces went our way, but I thought we played hard. We played within our structure and really tried to focus on our process. I thought the guys did a nice job competing. Obviously, we got a little bit, I don’t want to say lucky, but a bounce at the end and it came at a good time for us. So, we were happy with the weekend obviously and then the week off, we were able to refocus and put our attention on Lake Superior (State).” 

St. Thomas’ Ryan O’Neill tries to poke the puck away from Lake Superior State’s Louis Boudon during a Nov. 26, 2022 game in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

Last week, the Tommies were on a bye and that can be tough on a team that is on a winning streak and full of momentum. However, Blasi said he had a strategy on how to keep his team fresh during their week off.  

“There’s so many different ways you can go at it,” he said. “For us, it was important to get some rest. We’ve been going hard from Day 1. We haven’t had a week off or a day off. So, we needed to make sure we took care of our bodies, but we also needed to make sure we stayed sharp. So, we try to do that with a few different things. Whether it was a compete day and game day, or a skill day, have a little bit of fun along the way. Just to try to stay engaged and stay sharp and be excited. We play the game that we love to play, we’re in a great institution and a great spot and our guys get along really well. Just a lot of what we did in the month of September in terms of just being ready to play.”

St. Thomas goalie Aaron Trotter relaxes after making a glove save during a game against Lake Superior State on Nov. 26, 2022 in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

The fun may be coming to an end though for the Tommies as Lake Superior State comes into town with a little momentum of their own. The Lakers (6-6, 3-3) had lost three straight before forcing a split Saturday against BG, so they might be back on track heading into this weekend. They also have a key offensive weapon in CCHA Forward of the Week Jared Westcott, who leads the nation in goals (12) and is tied for the lead in points (22).  

“We know what Lake State’s been doing,” Blasi said. “They’re playing really well right now. They’ve got, I think, the leading scorer or points getter in the country right now. Their power play is very good. They’ve gotten some really good goaltending, their D corps is solid, and they’re well-coached just like every other team that we play. It’s going to be a battle for time and space all over the ice and we have to be ready for that. So, our focus is to be ready, play our game and be ready to compete at a high level and be relentless in that compete.” 

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday in Mendota Heights.  

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