Royals senior goaltender Patric Loeffler was dialed in for most of Saturday's game against Roseau. However, when he needed to make the game-saving stop, he couldn’t.
With less than 30 seconds remaining in overtime, Roseau sophomore forward Gavin Gunderson beat Loeffler with a backhander, as Roseau (5-3-0, 1-1-0) defeated Rogers (2-3-0, 1-1-0) 3-2 in overtime.
Head coach Dave Brown said Loeffler is an amazing goaltender. Loeffler’s athleticism and aggressiveness remind him of Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock.
“He’s a competitor,” Brown said. “He’s an aggressive goalie that trusts his work ethic. I’ve never seen a goalie study the game like he does. It shows in his performance.”
Neither team scored in the first period. The Royals outshot the Rams 8-6. Rogers had a flurry of chances late in the first, but Roseau junior goaltender Andrew Tuttle stopped the Royals attack.
Rogers senior forward Jake Jenson broke the deadlock at 11:35 of the second period beat Tuttle for his second goal of the season. Loeffler held Roseau off the scoreboard as he made 16 saves in the second period.
Gunderson tied the game when he snuck home a rebound past Loeffler at 2:23 of the third. Controversy ensued when senior forward Brandon Lubke was called for hooking at 9:18 of the third period. The Royals argued that the Roseau player fell down on his own, but the referees listened to no avail. Gunderson put a backhander past Loeffler at 10:23 of the third to make it 2-1. Brown received an unsportsmanlike conduct minor after he screamed at the referees from the bench to argue the penalty against Lubke.
While killing off the unsportsmanlike conduct minor, Jenson and Rogers senior forward Trey Frederickson went in on a 2-on-1. Frederickson one-timed a pass to Jenson, who fired a one-timer past Tuttle to tie the game at 10:37 of the period, just 14 seconds after the penalty was assessed and put the Royals bench at ease.
“To have your senior captain go out there and score a shorthanded goal to tie the game up in that situation says the high level of character that Jake Jenson has,” Brown said. “It was an amazing moment for our team. We were right there, had our chances but in the end we just couldn’t put it home.”
Rogers and Roseau battled but neither team could score the winner before the end of regulation. When it looked like the game was going to end in a tie, Gunderson completed his hat trick with 26 seconds remaining in overtime, giving the Rams the win and extending the Royals’ losing streak to 3.
Loeffler said he knew that Roseau was going to score in overtime.
“I knew they were going to keep pounding right until the end,” Loeffler said. “They were taking away my eyes.”
Offensive Player of the Game
Gunderson’s hat trick was the difference on Saturday afternoon. It was the sophomore’s first career hat trick. Gunderson's older sister, Tianna, played for the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher women's hockey team from 2015-19 and won a Frozen Four national championship with the Gophers in 2016 as well as the WCHA Final Faceoff in 2017-18.
Defensive Player of the Game
Although Tuttle was the winning goaltender, Loeffler forced the game into overtime. His 46 saves kept Rogers in the game until overtime.
Rogers was scheduled to face Robbinsdale Armstrong-Cooper (4-4-0, 1-1-0) on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Roseau was scheduled to host Bemidji (1-6-0, 0-3-0) on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Loeffler said the Royals have to get at it to avoid another loss, He made a guarantee just like NHL legend Mark Messier did in 1994 when the Rangers were trailing 3 games to 2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils—Rogers will win on Thursday. The 1994 Rangers won the series and eventually the Stanley Cup over the Vancouver Canucks, ending a 54-year championship drought.
“We have to come right out of the gates and pound them,” Loeffler said. “We can’t give them a chance early in the first. It’s going to be similar to Roseau, but it’s going to be a different outcome because we’re going to win.”