By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Posted: Friday, January 14, 2011
“Tough loss,” Ripple said. “It’s nice that I got points and put the puck in the net, but at the same time we didn’t win.’’
Coulee Region rallied from a 4-2 third-period deficit on a pair of Ripple goals 2½ minutes apart. The Chill kept the puck deep and had two shots on goal early in overtime before Owatonna went on a counterattack and Jordan Krebsbach flung a long, fluttering shot that got past Paul Moberg.
“He just missed it,” Chill coach Garrett Strot said. “He made some tough saves, too.’’
Ripple, a first-year wing from Winter Springs, Fla., entered the game with seven goals for the season and had scored eight points in his last five games. He kept the hot hand, chalking up his first NAHL hat trick plus one.
“His biggest strength is that he plays in front of the net, and that’s where most of your goals come from,” Strot said. “He’s got a good stick, good hands.“
Ripple buried two rebounds in the second period, pulling Coulee Region even after it had fallen behind 2-0 in the first.
He rallied the Chill again in the third after it was 4-2 Owatonna. Ripple opened up his bag of tricks on his third goal, dragging the puck past his defenseman then beating Charles Williams with a move to his backhand. Ripple put away a loose puck at the side of the net to tie it at 16:35 of the third.
“I love playing in front of the net,” Ripple said. “I’ll be there for rebounds, and if not, it’s on me.“
Ripple’s tough play in the slot has also freed him up to try one-on-one moves that he wasn’t trying early in the season.
“I’m starting to get confidence to try stuff like that,” Ripple said. “If it doesn’t work and I turn it over, I know it’s OK because coach trusts me.“
The Chill had a goal waved off at 9:19 of the first when the net was jarred loose before the puck went into the net.
Owatonna took the lead 1½ minutes later on a goal by Lawrence Cornellier. Andy Singerhouse gave Owatonna a 2-0 lead at 18:30.
Coulee Region tied it in the second period on two power-play goals by Ripple. The first, at 3:09, was the Chill’s first goal against Williams in just more than four periods. Williams had shut out the Chill on Dec. 3.
Singerhouse and Jace Kusler built another two-goal lead for the Express in the third before Ripple added his third and fourth goals.
Owatonna (20-12-4, 44 points) moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division with the win and losses by the Chill (19-10-4, 42) and Bismarck (20-10-2, 42).
“It’s still early but you want to stay up top,” Strot said. “Just make sure you stay close and try to put together a run.“