Great Lakes Radio
The inaugural season of the MQT Royales Junior Hockey Club wrapped up this weekend at MQT’s Lakeview Arena in grand style. The Royales hosted the Tri-City Icehawks for the final 3 game series of the regular season.
The Royales are the Great Lakes Division Champions of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League and the team saluted the home crowd Friday night as they presented their first-ever Division Championship banner.
The banner-raising ceremony kicked off the special NASCAR weekend. The Royales teamed up with Hoover’s Auto Body Shop to raise funds to support area youth hockey programs.
The NASCAR weekend featured silent auction items, collectible t-shirts, NASCAR pucks, 50/50 raffles, chuck-a-puck, signed Royales player posters, and collectible Royales game jerseys that were auctioned off at the end Saturday’s game.
On Friday night, the Icehawks jumped out to an early lead with a power play goal at 17:56 of the first period. The Icehawks scored 2 more goals in the first half of the second period to take a 3-0 lead. Late in the second period, Robby Gervino finally put the Royales on the scoreboard at 18:46 and teammate Nick DeSimone drove home another goal at 19:15. An ensuing fight ended the period with the Icehawks taking a 3-2 lead into the locker room and leaving the Royales to start the 3rd period shorthanded with a five-minute fighting penalty. The Icehawks seized the opportunity and netted a power play goal at 3:50 to start the 3rd period. The Royales added a goal at 7:17 to make it 4-3 (Icehawks). It was a battle to the end but the Icehawks scored their 5th goal at 10:53 and sneaked in an empty-netter to close out the game, handing the Royales their first home ice loss of the season.
Fast forward to Saturday, the Royales jumped out to an early 1-0 lead over the Icehawks at 4:40 into the first period. The Icehawks clearly came to play and make every effort to ruin MQT’s home ice record. The Icehawks put in two goals before the end of the period to take 2-1 lead in to the first intermission. Soon after the second period got underway Royales' Scott Victor was sent to the penalty box with a five-minute fighting penalty.
The Royales power play held strong but shortly thereafter the Icehawks scored on a breakaway, short-handed goal to open up a 3-1 lead.
With exactly 30 seconds to go in the 2nd period, Nick DeSimone nails one to close the gap 3-2.
The Royales came out in the 3rd with a sense of urgency and commitment. The level of play was like, ‘BAM’, kick it up a notch! At 7:13 Marquette native Dallas McLaughlin unleashed a rocket from the left side of the point to make it a 3-3 tie. It seemed as though the placement and accuracy of the shot spun the goalie around and dazed the Icehawks’ defensive line. And, after McLaughlin made his signature ‘Lakeview Leap’, it was clear the Royales were right back in it. In it, they were. The Royales 4 and final goal of the night came at 8:44 and solid defensive work held off the Icehawks for the remainder of the period for a 4-3 Royale victory.
Sunday’s game was more of the same. Solid defense and a goal-minded offense denied the challengers any opportunity to do any further damage to the Royales’ home ice record. The Royales posted a 4-1 victory to close out the regular season before the home crowd.
The Royales finished the regular season going 20-1 at home and 37-9 overall – one of the best records in the entire Minnesota Junior Hockey League. The Royales will host a home playoff series March 14 through 16 at Lakeview.
Congratulations to the players, coaches, and staff on one helluva first season. It’s not over yet. I, and your entire Royale community, wish you the very best of luck in the playoffs. Your quest to bring home a national championship is within reach.
But know this – win, lose, or draw – this community can’t thank you enough for bringing the Royales organization to Marquette. We are pleased to have you as a member of our community. You have all presented yourselves as good, upstanding, caring citizens. What you all have done to support local youth hockey programs, charities, and other service organizations is laudable. We look forward to next year and many years to come. With your help and leadership, MQT will become the hockey mecca it once was. Thank you!