The Rum River Mallards remain undefeated on the young season after crushing the Steele County Blades 8-3 in a USPHL contest at the Isanti Ice Arena on Saturday, Sept. 28.
The Mallards’ second win of the year was similar to the home opener one week earlier in which Rum River, trailing 2-1 after one period, used a second-period outburst to take the lead for good.
Unlike one week earlier, where coach Jimmy Jensen’s fire-and-brimstone sermon was required to awaken his troops, this time the coach said he stayed out of the locker room for most of the first intermission.
“It sounded pretty loud – they were getting after it a little bit,” Jensen said. “But we know that, even if we struggled in the first [period], if we keep it close we still have a lot of time left. We know we can beat this team, because we have a lot of firepower in the room.”
That proved to be the case as the Mallards scored three goals in second period and four more in the third to cruise to the victory.
Jensen said the biggest difference between first and the final two periods is that his young team settled down during the first intermission.
“This team needs to keep it simple,” he explained. “In the first period I think they were doing too much, trying to make fancy plays. It’s simple: When the puck is in our zone, we need to get it out. Then we need to get it in their zone, get it deep. And instead of looking to make the perfect pass, let’s get the puck on net, then crash and bang and get traffic.
“We scored our goals in the second period by getting shots on net, then getting rebounds and crashing the net.”
The scoring was led by a pair of local players as Cambridge natives Derek Becklin and Jace Wilkinson each scored two goals; Becklin added two assists, while Wilkinson had one.
One of Wilkinson’s goals was one of two short-handed goals the Mallards scored on the night, with Gage Rennox netting the other.
“There’s nothing more deflating to the other team than scoring short-handed goals,” Jensen said. “We work on the penalty kill all the time, and we work to score short-handed.”
After winning their first two games at home, the Mallards will hit the road for their next four contests. Rum River will face the Blades in a rematch at Steele County on Saturday, Oct. 5, before playing a pair of games against the Dell Ducks on Oct. 11-12. The Mallards then face the Minnesota Blue Ox on Oct. 18 before returning the Isanti Ice Arena the following evening to host the Minnesota Mullets.
“It’s a challenge to play on the road, but it’s a challenge we look forward to,” Jensen said. “We want to spoil the other team’s home games. We play a physical style, and that can cause another team’s fans to dislike you – but our guys enjoy playing on the road.”