APPLE VALLEY — It wasn’t necessarily the start the Owatonna boys hockey team was hoping for, but that’s just it, it was a start.
Hitting the road for a nonconference game against a non-sectional opponent, the Huskies dug themselves a deep hole in the opening period and couldn’t claw their way back in a 4-1 loss to Apple Valley on Saturday.
Though the defeat was slightly disappointing because it was the first game of the season, the Eagles are a battle-tested program from a tough conference and the setback won’t affect Owatonna when it comes to the Big Nine Conference standings or Section 1-AA seeds.
Basically, it was a trial-run for what still expects to be a promising 2019-2020 campaign.
After his team surrendered three goals in a 10-minute span in the opening period, Owatonna’s Casey Johnson lit the lamp at the 4:38-mark of the second to breath new life into the visiting bench.
Apple Valley, though, made sure the good vibes didn't last too and stonewalled the Huskies for the remainder of the game, turning away 16 shots in the final two periods alone.
Owatonna was out-shot 11-to-2 in the first period but peppered 20 shots-on-goal in the final two stanzas. The Huskies didn’t help themselves on special teams as they finished 0-for-5 on the power play and surrendered a short-handed goal late in the third period that capped the scoring.
Reigning all-conference goalie, Zach Wiese, scuffled out of the gates — allowing three goals between the 3:47-mark and 9:39-mark of the first period — but settled in nicely and stopped 15 of the final 16 shots he faced and 23 of 27 overall (85.5%).
Owatonna will look to bounce back when it plays at South St. Paul on Tuesday night.
Apple Valley, which finished 2-22 last season, received scoring contributions from Nate Messerich (two goals), Carter Ranning and Thor Oase.
APPLE VALLEY 4, OWATONNA 1
AV—Nate Messerich (Jace Larson), 3:47
AV—Carter Ranning (Nolan Christy), 8:13
AV—Thor Oase (Larson), 9:39
O—Casey Johnson (Dom Valento), 4:38
AV—Messerich (unassisted), 13:57, SH
Owatonna goalie: Zach Wiese (51:00, 23 saves)