Hockey is a game of inches. Inches, sometimes centimeters, can be the difference between teams winning games and losing them.
Rogers (12-12-2) lost to St. Cloud (16-9-1) 6-3 in the Section 8-Class 2A semifinal on Feb. 18 at Dave Torrey Arena in St. Cloud.
Late in the third period down 4-3, the Royals had a power play opportunity. St. Cloud senior goaltender Spencer Bertram couldn’t control a Rogers shot and the puck trickled towards the net. The Royals reacted as if the puck had gone in, but the referees determined that the puck did not completely cross the goal line.
Head coach Dave Brown said that the no goal call was not the main reason that the Royals lost.
“We put them on the power play a few too many times,” Brown said. “One of the penalties is hard to kill. It’s an offensive-zone penalty 200 feet from your own net. Those kids have so many points for a reason. They’re good hockey players.”
St. Cloud got on the board first at 10:37 of the first period when sophomore forward August Falloon whipped a one-timer past Rogers senior goaltender Patric Loeffler for his 25th goal of the season.
Falloon double-dipped 49 seconds into the second period to extend St. Cloud’s lead to two, beating Loeffler with a wrist shot top shelf for his sixth multi-goal game of the season.
St. Cloud senior defender Sean Davidson made it 3-0 at 2:35 of the second when his blue-line shot beat Loeffler, who was partially screened on the play. Rogers got on the board at 3:57 of the period when senior forward Jack Peluf beat Bertram to make it 3-1. After St. Cloud senior forward Blake Keller made it 3-1 on the power play at 12:41 of the second, the Royals scored twice, once in the second and once in the third to make it 4-3 late in the third period.
When St. Cloud senior forward Christian Engel was called for roughing at 12:23 of the third, Rogers went on the power play and nearly tied the game as Bertram swatted the puck away from the goal line before the puck completely crossed the line.
A few minutes later, Falloon completed his hat trick, giving St. Cloud a 5-3 lead.
When the final horn sounded, both teams shook hands as the raucous crowd inside Dave Torrey Arena applauded the hometown team. While St. Cloud celebrated, some of the Royals slammed their sticks in frustration on the way to the locker room knowing that they were inches, possibly centimeters away from forcing overtime.
Senior forward Cal Levis said he’ll remember the 2019-20 Rogers Royals as a team that worked hard and developed relationships with Brown and first-year assistant coach Jake Parenteau.
“It’s hard to close this chapter but hopefully, [I’ll] open a new one,” Levis said.
Offensive Player of the Game
Falloon’s hat trick was his second of the season. He scored four on Jan. 21 in St. Cloud’s 9-1 win over Willmar.
“When you leave him wide open, he’s going to make you pay,” Brown said.
Defensive Player of the Game
Bertram made 22 saves for his first 13th win of the season.
Rogers 2019-20 season is over.
St. Cloud was scheduled to face No. 4 Moorhead (19-5-1) in the Section 8-Class 2A semifinal on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at Moorhead Sports Center. The winner will advance to the section final against Roseau (17-8-1) or St. Michael-Albertville (13-10-3) on Feb. 26.
Brown said the future looks bright for the Royals.
“We had a special group of seniors that have changed the culture in our locker room,” he said. “They’ve set a precedent to hard work and dedication and commitment to themselves. There are bright days ahead for the Rogers program because of those seniors.”