Defensive efforts not enough in emotional loss, elimination from state tournament
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FRISCO – Within just two minutes, everything changed.
The Coppell hockey team, with a one goal lead in the third period against McKinney, gave up two goals in two minutes, which flipped the lead and propelled the Lions to a 4-2 win over the Cowboys at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Frisco.
“Emotionally, it’s tough,” Coppell coach Cosmo Clarke said. “How the league is played, [the state tournament] is everyone’s main focus of the season, so emotions are extremely high.”
The Cowboys (10-3) scored both of their goals in the second period on excellent plays by both senior defenseman Charlie O’Hearn and senior forward Jarrett Taylor. The two goals gave Coppell its first lead of the game with 30 seconds left in the second period.
Yet its lead was not great enough. After McKinney scored both of its late goals, the Cowboys could not answer, even though they totaled 10 shots on goal during the third period.
“It came down to the little things,” Clarke said. “Sometimes we needed to focus more on the defensive side of the ice instead of the offense. In high level play like this tournament, most of the goals are going to be off rebounds, not just pretty shots. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get in position to get those goals.”
The final goal for McKinney was scored with 30 seconds left in the game after Clarke pulled junior goalie Ethan Williams, who posted an .870 save percentage on the game. Both the Williams brothers (Evan was in the net for the Cowboys in last night’s 2-1 overtime loss to Frisco), combined for a .905 save percentage in the two losses.
While the goalkeeping play had been solid for both games for Coppell, so was the defense. Led by senior defenseman Parker Noell and O’Hearn, the defense shut down the Lion’s attack on multiple breakaways, only allowing scores off of rebounded shots and the one empty-netter.
Even though the loss eliminated the Cowboys from playing in the state championship game, they squared up against Plano West in their third game of the round robin.
Tournament ends with chippy loss to Plano West
In a game that had no implications on the rest of the tournament, as both teams had already been knocked out of the TAHA state tournament playoffs, simply finishing the game healthy was a priority.
Yet, the intensity between the teams did not let up until the final buzzer, and the Coppell hockey team was taken down from behind by a Plano West defender. Raikaa lost his balance and slammed into the boards, suffering a severe shoulder injury. The Plano west player was not allowed to re-enter the game.
“In a physical game like this, it’s just (about) making sure you know where they are on the ice,” Coppell coach Cosmo Clarke said. “They just had to make sure they were looking over their shoulder.”
After West scored one goal in the second period and one midway through the third, it looked as if the Cowboys had lost hope. But after a goal by senior forward Jarrett Taylor and another by senior forward Ryan Scheetz, Coppell had tied it.
However, Plano West came right back with a goal of its own, and the Cowboys simply could not get another good look at the goal. But the action on the ice was not done after the final score. With two minutes remaining, a blow to the back of the head sent a Coppell player sprawling on the ice. The Cowboys retaliated with a cross check, and both sides picked up penalty minutes.
“It’s definitely hard to keep your head,” senior forward Larson Polk said. “You’ve got to have the mindset that your team still needs to win the game. If you get yourself in trouble or get a penalty, you put your team down.”
While the team was unable to make it into the playoff round of the state tournament, the bright spot this weekend was the play of twin junior goalkeepers Ethan and Evan Williams. In two games, Evan posted a 0.931 save percentage, while Ethan saved 20 of 23 shots in the loss to McKinney.
Unlike most sports, the hockey season continues even after the state championship. And while the weekend did not end the way they would have liked, the Cowboys can still gain valuable experience from facing adversity.