Royales Beat Writer
The winning streak of 14 in a row grew to 17 this weekend as the Marquette Royales (17-2) swept the visiting Wooster Oilers (12-9) November 1-3 at Lakeview Arena. Coming into this series Wooster was three points back on MQT and had an opportunity to sit atop the division if they could manage to pick up points against a hot Royales team riding a 14 game win streak.
Five minutes into the first period of the first game the Oilers started strong and got a quick first goal from Austin Graf. Drew Jarvis would tie things up later in the first with an assist by Sweden native Jesper Tiselius who saw his most action thus far this season.
The Royales would add five unanswered goals to start the third period including a power play goal by Robby Gervino to get to a 7-3 lead. Wooster added two more but still fell to the home Royales.
"They're a pretty good team, but when we play hard, no one can really keep up with us" Said King who had a very productive series and leads the league in points with 46.
Special teams play was key in the second game of the series. Play would slow down with a myriad of penalties with 23 separate infractions in the second period alone. The game had a total of 106 penalty minutes on 35 penalties. The tension was just as high between both coaching staffs as well when a minor screaming match broke out from the benches, due to "emotions of the game" according to MQT Assistant Coach Cliff Cook. MQT went 3 for 12 on the power play and killed off all Wooster man-up advantages. Royales' Dallas McLaughlin added his seventh shorthanded goal of the season as well.
Nate Eminger who seen 40 shots on goal and saved all but three. The Royales would make this game a blow out by adding five more in the third period, winning 12-3. Eight different Royales scored as Jeff Salzbrunn, McLaughlin and Mike House led the team in goals with two each. Fourteen of the 18 MQT skaters had at least one point, led by Jarvis five (G, 4 A).
The third and final game of the series saw Wooster coming out hard to avoid the sweep. The same as the first two games the Oilers would start the scoring off but this time it took until the second period to take the lead behind a goal by Josh Eubank. Gervino would tie the game up getting a shot passed oiler goaltender Daniel Kemter. Midway through the Second period there was silence in Lakeview arena as hometown star McLaughlin took a hard hit into the boards and was slow to his feet. The resilient forward returned to the ice to lead his team on the power play following the five minute major for the hit. McLaughlin took the puck down ice into the Wooster zone and beat Kemter to get the 2-1 lead in the first of two goals scored during the penalty, making it a 3-1 game.
Wooster would get within one with a goal by Rubin Chavvaria an unassisted shorthanded goal. For the rest of the game the Royales would rely on their stingy defense and good goaltending by Walker Enstad who faced 37 shots and stopped 35. A late goal by Todd Cooper for MQT would add the insurance they needed to coast to a 4-2 victory and seal the three-game sweep.
"We are finding ways to win when we aren't playing well, which is important i think," Cook said. "When we are playing a tough team like this (Wooster) and we're not on our best, we are digging deep, finding the heart to come back and actually pull it out."
The three victories gave the Royales nine more points for 34 total, one point ahead of the Minnesota Divisions Maple Grove Energy (16-6) for the most points in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League. With the Oilers not picking up any points this weekend they stay at 25 and still tied for second place in the Great Lakes division with Illiana (12-5) who had the weekend off. Even early in the season, the points race is crucial for postseason seeding. The team with the most points regardless of the division will host the league championship series.
The Royales who have not looked back after losing their first two games are currently 17-0 since September 13. Hoping to turn that into 20 straight wins, the Royales will take on the physical play of the Central Wisconsin Saints (10-9) in three games next weekend Nov 8-10 at Lakeview Arena. Wooster who hopes to get back on track so they don’t lose ground in division will have next weekend off, and will next take on the winless St. Louis Frontenacs (0-17).
Brandon Decremer is the Royales beat writer for MQT Social Scene. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.