Marshall boys’ defense prevails in win over Minnesota River

Photo by Jake McNeill: Marshall goalie Gavin Welsh (center) prepares to make a save during the third period of a boys hockey game against Minnesota River at Red Baron Arena in Marshall on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 2-1.

MARSHALL — Gavin Welsh had a big night in goal for the Marshall boys hockey team on Saturday night, falling one save shy of his second consecutive shutout to help the Tigers pick up a 2-1 win over Minnesota River.

After putting together a 21-save shutout in a win over Hutchinson on Tuesday, Welsh saved 20 of the 21 shots he faced against Minnesota River on Saturday. The lone goal he allowed came with 6.6 seconds remaining in the game after the Bulldogs pulled their goalie while trailing 2-0.

“I think all the boys have been focusing in practice more,” Welsh said of his recent success in goal. “And you can’t forget about number 12, Tyler Welsh, my cousin, blocking all those shots out there. I don’t think we could have won that game without him.”

Gavin Welsh’s .952 save rate marked sixth game of the season with a save percentage of .900 or better and left him a save shy of his fifth shutout of the season. The Tigers are 5-1 in games where Welsh saves more than 90% of the shots he faces.

Both teams were able to get opportunities in the first period, Minnesota River finishing the frame with 10 shots on goal and Marshall tallying nine, but neither was able to break through to the back of the net. It wasn’t until four minutes into the second period when Owen Renslow broke through with an unassisted goal to put Marshall in the driver’s seat. The goal was Renslow’s 23rd of the season and extended his point streak to 11 games.

“We didn’t really change a whole lot. We had a few good chances in the first and we just didn’t capitalize,” Marshall head coach Michael Weiss said “We settled down and handled the puck a little bit better and that gave us some room.”

After the Bulldogs fired off 10 shots on goal in the first period, Marshall’s defense locked down and held Minnesota River to just 11 shots on goal in the next two periods combined.

“They just go all out and they’re really good at defending the body. They’re really good at blocking shots and you know that helped out big time today,” Weiss said, also noting the importance of some big blocks from Tyler Welsh.

With the game still in reach in the third period, Renslow gathered the puck in the attacking zone and, with nobody but the goaltender to beat, attempted to sneak the puck in past the right post. The Minnesota River goaltender was able to make a save with his skate, but Andrew Seanoer was right on top of it and poked in the loose puck for a 2-0 Marshall lead three minutes into the final frame.

Marshall improves to 11-9-0 overall on the season and their 7-5 record in Big South play ties them with Minnesota River for fifth in the conference. They’ll take on Luverne, who is currently a perfect 10-0 in conference play, on Thursday at 7 p.m. for their penultimate home game. The Cardinals are 16-2 overall this season but both of their losses have come in the last five games with a 6-5 loss to New Prague on Jan. 16 and a 6-5 loss at Little Falls on Jan. 26.

“We’ve just got to tell them to keep following the plan,” Weiss said of his message to his team ahead of the game. ‘What they’ve been doing defensively has worked out really well. If we keep trending in the right direction here, they’re not going to need any extra motivation to play Luverne, who’s going to be the top seed in our section and won it last year. We’re just going to look to keep building and have another really good effort.”


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