By Josh Brown
TROY — Thursday, the Troy hockey team played maybe its best game of the season against an evenly-matched opponent to kick off this year’s Miami Valley Freeze tournament at Hobart Arena.
Friday, the Trojans played in a pair of mismatches.
Troy (3-9-2) began play on Thursday by falling to Southwest Ohio High School Hockey League rival Beavercreek 3-2 on a goal with less than a minute and a half left to play. The Trojans followed that by routing the Dayton Stealth 7-1 in Friday’s early game then closed pool play with a 7-0 loss to Northern Kentucky, leaving the team expecting to play the Dayton Stealth again Saturday morning in the fifth-sixth place game at Hobart Arena.
Thursday’s game was the third time Troy has played the Beavers this season, losing all three of them. The Trojans lost to Beavercreek 2-0 in the Frozen Creek Tournament to start the season, then lost 4-0 at last week’s Dayton Mayor’s Cup. This time, though, the Trojans competed, even tying the score at 2-2 with 3:10 left to play.
“All of the games we’ve played against them (Beavercreek) have been close,” Troy coach Phill Noll said. “The one we lost 4-0, they scored three in the third period. When we lost 2-0, it was 1-0 in the last three minutes. The key between us and Beavercreek has been that we have spent more time in the penalty box than we have on the ice in those games.”
Thursday, though, Nate Uhlenbrock scored on an assist from Zach Uhlenbrock, then Zach Uhlenbrock scored the game-tying goal with 3:10 remaining on an assist from Jack McGuirk. But with 1:17 left in the game, the puck came loose just as a Beavercreek player was coming out of the penalty box, and he scooped it up and took it the length of the ice for a breakaway goal to end the game in heartbreaking fashion for the Trojans.
Troy actually outshot Beavercreek 23-17 in that game — something that has been a rarity on the season so far. And in their second game of the tournament on Friday morning, the Trojans outshot the Dayton Stealth by an even wider margin, 34-15 and coasted to a 7-1 win.
Zach Uhlenbrock had a hat trick with three goals and an assist, while Nate Uhlenbrock had two goals — and just missed a hat trick of his own as another score was waved off — and an assist. John Wehrkamp added a goal and two assists, Austin Strong had a goal and Michael Hess had two assists in the win.
“Dayton is less experienced. They’re a younger team, like we are,” Noll said. “We just controlled the puck a lot more in that game. Against Northern Kentucky, we just struggled for most of the game.”
Northern Kentucky is a familiar opponent for Troy, too. The Trojans faced the Norse four times in the 2015-16 season, going 1-3 against them with none of the games being decided by more than two goals. Last year, though, the teams only played once, with Troy losing 11-1.
“Northern Kentucky only has two or three players on their whole roster that aren’t juniors or seniors,” Noll said. “They have nothing but experienced players. All of those guys that skated against us the past two years back to the ice, while we only have a couple of guys that came back to the ice for us.”
The difference in experience was apparent early on, as the Norse scored on the game’s opening rush, with Joshua Roesel scoring on an assist from Ryan Huesman 16 seconds into the matchup. And with 6:41 left in the first, Roesel scored a power play goal — one of three in the game for the Norse — to make it 2-0, then Nick Rintala added a breakaway goal with 3:31 left in the opening period to make it 3-0 Northern Kentucky after one.
Two minutes into the second period, Troy was called for a five-minute high sticking major, and the Norse tallied a goal during the penalty when Huesman scored at 12:48. The Norse added a trickler off the stick of Evan Ogilvie with 6:19 left in the second, and Chris Fox flicked a wrister over Troy’s goalie’s shoulder with 5:47 left to make it 6-0 heading into the third period — with Troy only having taken five shots on goal to that point. Ogilvie added another power play goal with 5:52 left in the game to make the final 7-0, with Troy being outshot 35-11 for the game.
“We just couldn’t get the puck down to the offensive zone, and we couldn’t do anything with it,” Noll said. “They were just too fast. They outskated us on the 50-50 pucks, they beat us into the corner to get the puck. They just showed a little bit more desire than what we did. Hats off to them — they’re a good team.”
Troy’s opponent for Saturday’s Miami Valley Freeze final round was still to be decided at time of press. Hobart Arena will play host to three games on Saturday, with the puck dropping for the first one at 8 a.m.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.