Eau Claire North came out a bit off in its first game back from a signature win on Saturday in Superior over the state-ranked Spartans.
The Huskies picked perhaps the absolute worst opponent to come out of the gates slow against.
And top-ranked Hudson made them pay.
The Raiders set the tone early and took advantage of North mistakes in a 6-1 Big Rivers win on Thursday night at Hobbs Ice Center.
“Basically tonight, we didn’t play our game,” North coach Ryan Parker said. “We had some simple breakdowns that cost us big time in the back of the net.”
While North didn’t play the way it had in winning six out of its last seven games prior to Thursday, Hudson is every bit as good as its state ranking.
Gone are all-state players Chase Blackmun, Aaron Grounds and Anthony Howard from last season’s state title team. In is a newer group that’s picked up right where the Raiders left off last season on top of the podium in Madison.
In fact, today marks 379 days since the last time Hudson lost a hockey game, which was a 4-3 loss to Memorial on Jan. 5, 2017. The Raiders are 15-0 this winter.
“We don’t have quite the firepower we had last year, but we’ve had some guys who have stepped up,” said coach Brooks Lockwood, a former UW-Eau Claire skater. “I think we always try and emphasize the same thing.”
And that’s being fundamentally sound, playing above the puck and having a strong forecheck.
The Huskies had a chance to grab the lead as they went on the power play first, but the Raiders were the aggressors as they grabbed the game’s first goal despite being a man down. Jack Flattum got a bounce off the boards and rifled one in from the top of the circle.
Moments later, Peyton Hanson made it 2-0 after he maneuevered his way from side to side in the zone before picking his spot on net.
Hanson was the difference-maker in the second period. He drove to the net and created a rebound opportunity for Grady Gornick’s goal, and he then scored short-handed as he kept it on a 2-on-1. It was off a North turnover.
Cal Fadness got the Huskies on the board early in the third thanks to a nifty drop pass from Zach Urdahl, but it was all for naught. The Raiders added two for good measure on Jordon Halverson and Aaron Squires tallies.
The response from Saturday’s big win wasn’t what Parker was hoping for. So he issued a challenge to his guys before another ranked team — Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha — comes into town on Saturday.
“We’re going to get back to doing what we’ve been doing,” Parker said. “They’ve got to start responding among themselves and on their own to start accomplishing some of the goals we’ve set.”
North fell to 12-4-1 and 3-3 in the conference.