EULESS – In the grand scheme of things, Wednesday’s playoff loss to Keller didn’t mean much for the Midlothian hockey team except that it wouldn’t play on Thursday. That still wasn’t much consolation.
After beating Mansfield in the playoff opener on Monday to clinch a spot in the upcoming Texas state hockey championships, the Panthers were playing for a spot in the Metroplex title game against division rival Keller. This time around, there would be no defensive marvel or timely offense as the Indians exploded with four first period goals and went on to win 5-1. Keller will now play Highland Park for the silver division Metroplex Championship.
“We came off a couple games hot and I think we went into it a little hot headed today. We knew we already had a spot in state so weren’t as in to it I think. This is what happens,” Chris Green said.
Before many of the fans even got settled into their spots along the glass, the bad signs of Midlothian’s undoing hit the scoreboard as Keller put a goal in 28 seconds into the game. From there, it was all Chase Woods.
The fifth-leading scorer in the silver division, Woods rattled off three straight goals in less than three minutes to notch a hat trick in the first period. He added insult to injury by tacking on a fourth goal just 34 seconds into the second period that proved to the final points of the night for either team.
Trent Williams’ powerplay goal off of a Trent Newman assist was the lone offensive bright spot for Midlothian the entire night as the Panthers were held to just 13 shots on goal. The previous low for the regular season was 18 in a 6-0 win over Arlington Martin on Jan. 13. In every other game this season, the team cleared 20-plus shots on goal.
“The puck didn’t really bounce our way tonight and we couldn’t really get out of our zone,” Grayson Ridge said. “It seems like they had a stick right in our passing lane every time. Our momentum was quickly stifled.”
Things didn’t get much better as the penalty minutes began to pile up. After committing just three infractions for nine minutes against Mansfield on Monday, the Panthers were hit with nine penalties for 21 minutes and had three separate instances of playing 3-on-5 defense against the Keller attack.
All those elements leave a lot of pieces to put back together over the next few days. Hockey goes on break next week with schools across the area being out for spring break. The Panthers, who have played three games in six days with practices as well, will get time off from actual game play to prepare for the state championship tournament.
“At least we can kind of start from scratch here. We’re still in. We’re not completely out,” Ridge said. “I think we can work on things that went wrong tonight and we’ve got plenty of time to get everything back where we need to.”
That tournament will feature Metroplex teams Midlothian, Keller, Highland Park and Arlington Martin against four teams from San Antonio, Houston and other areas. The tournament is scheduled to play out from March 26-27 at StarCenter in Farmers Branch.
Midlothian coach Ryan Pfeiffer shied away from commenting on his frustration for the night but thanked the mass fan turnout yet again as students from Midlothian were brought to the game to cheer the team.
His hope was those fans would be in the team’s corner when the state playoffs roll around.
While not winning the city title was disappointing, Green quickly pointed to the possiblity that it wasn’t the last time these two rivals would see each other.
“I think it’s good that we lost to them now because we will see them in state and that’s when it really matters. I’d rather beat them then than now,” Green said.
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