If the first period showed anything, Eau Claire Memorial was ready to take it to Chippewa Falls on Thursday night.
The Cardinals came into the game undefeated and ranked sixth in the state, but all that early season momentum went out the window in a hurry. Just eight minutes into the game, Chi-Hi found itself down 4-1 and in need of a timeout to regroup.
“Let’s get six this period,” someone yelled from the Memorial bench.
Six minutes later, Memorial’s Joe Kelly found the back of the net on a two-on-one to put the Old Abes up 5-1. Though that sixth first period goal never game, Memorial’s hot started proved more than enough to put the first blemish on the Cardinals’ season with a 7-4 victory at Hobbs Arena.
“I think our team is humble, but we have a good swagger to us to do what we did tonight on a nightly basis,” Kelly said.
While Memorial’s confidence led to a high scoring first period, Chi-Hi’s overconfidence cost them, according to head coach Scott Parker.
“We got what we deserved,” he said. “We were undefeated, ranked, and we couldn’t handle that. We got a good dose of ‘better be ready to play.’ We bounced back a little in the second and played I thought a decent third period, but we had that coming.”
Max Savaloja opened things up for the Old Abes with a wrist shot from just inside the left circle that he zipped past the Chi-Hi goalie less than a minute into the game.
Then the Kelly show began.
Almost 40 seconds after Savaloja’s goal, Kelly showed off his speed, whizzing up the ice along the right boards and firing a shot into the top left corner of the net for his first of his three goals on the night.
“He’s got a good hockey sense,” Memorial coach Chris Tok said of Kelly. “(He has) good instinct to understand where the puck is going to go.”
On the other side of the ice, senior Isaac Lindstrom continued his hot start to the season for the Cardinals.
The 6-foot forward opened the second period by scoring a breakaway goal and followed it up with another beauty eight minutes later when he dipsy-doodled around a pair of Old Abe defenders, faked a quick shot to the goalie’s right then pulled it back to slip it into the net to the left of the Memorial’s Joe Berg.
“We knew he could score, and we gave him some point-blank opportunities,” Tok said of Lindstrom. “You can’t give him that much open space, he’s a strong kid on the skates and he’s got some good speed and obviously he can finish.”
He scored the lone goal in the third period, again on a breakaway to register a hat trick.
“He has worked so hard,” Parker said. “As a sophomore he wasn’t that dynamic, but he worked hard on his strength and just overall he’s really worked his butt off.”
Kelly’s hat trick goal came in the second period when he picked up a loose rebound and slipped it 5-hole past Bridger Fixmer in net.
“He has a fast stride and a quick shot,” Memorial defenseman Lyam Steele said. “He’s just a good all-around player for us.”
The Old Abes will have little time to rest as they get right back to action today for an 8:15 p.m. puck drop against Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha at Hobbs.
For the Cardinals, Parker said he’ll have searching to do before they get back to action.
“There is something not right in that locker room and it’s my job to figure that out,” he said. “It’s a perfect timing for us to get that, we needed that, and now we can figure things out and go forward.”
They’ll have a chance to regroup right after Christmas when they head to Rochester, Minn. to play Albert Lea at 3 p.m. on Dec. 26.
Memorial 7 Chippewa Falls 4
Chippewa Falls 1 2 1 — 4
Memorial 5 2 0 — 7
First period: 1, Memorial, Matt Savaloja (unassisted),:20; 2, Memorial, Joe Kelly (Carter Olson), 1:01; 3, Chippewa Falls, Nick Carlson (Isaac Lindstrom, Isaac Frenette) 3:46 (pp); 4, Memorial, Easton Tok (Savloja) 7:21; 5, Memorial, Kelly (Olson, Brody Bernicke) 8:21; 6, Memorial, Kelly (Olson, Bernicke) Second period: 7, Chippewa Falls, Lindstrom (Frenette) 1 43; 8, Memorial, Kelly (Trevin Kison, Will Sherry) 4:50; 9, Chippewa Falls, Lindstrom (unassisted) 9:11; 10, Memorial, Connor Byrne (Kelly, Bernicke) 15:34; Third period: 11, Chippewa Falls, Lindstrom 1:26.
Shots on goal: Chippewa Falls 9-8-15—32; Memorial 16-18-15—49. Penalties: Chippewa Falls 7 for 14 mins; Memorial 6 for 12 mins. Goalies: Chippewa Falls: Bridger Fixmer (49 shots, 42 saves); Memorial: Joe Berg (32 shots, 28 saves). Records: Chippewa Falls 7-1-3-1, Memorial 5-2, 3-0.