Irish stifle Lightning for rare SSC win

Fraune makes 26 saves for Rosemount boys skaters

Tom Linder (13) moves the puck up the ice for Rosemount during the Irish’s 3-0 victory over Eastview on Tuesday night. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy
Tom Linder (13) moves the puck up the ice for Rosemount during the Irish’s 3-0 victory over Eastview on Tuesday night. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

Brad Stepan, Rosemount’s first-year head boys hockey coach, has not tried to sugarcoat things for the Irish.

He’s told anyone who would listen – including his players, who are required to listen – that the Irish were not likely to dazzle opponents with their skill. To win, he said, would require intelligence, discipline and good goaltending.

All three of those traits were on display Tuesday night when Rosemount defeated Eastview 3-0 at Apple Valley Sports Arena.

It was a meaningful victory on several fronts for Rosemount. Not only did the Irish cool off a team that went into Tuesday night with a four-game winning streak, they earned a rare conference victory.

Since the South Suburban Conference formed in 2010, Rosemount had won only four other league games. Three were against Bloomington Kennedy, which plays a reduced schedule in the SSC for competitive reasons.

“We’ve been kind of up and down this year, but a win in the South Suburban Conference is big for us. It’s huge for our confidence,” said junior goalie Tom Fraune, who made 26 saves to earn his first varsity shutout.

“As I’ve told the team all season, we have to keep teams under 30 shots and play well in our own end,” Stepan said. “And tonight we did that. We needed to get the puck deep and do the things we do well. We put 31 pucks on their goaltender (Eastview sophomore Zachary Driscoll), who’s pretty good.”

Indeed, Driscoll has a 2.04 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. But the Irish were able to get some traffic in front of him, and a couple of their goals appeared to be deflections.

Zach Bichler had two goals and Lukas Hedtke one for the Irish. Evan Weiand and Austin Anderson had assists.

Rosemount improved to 5-9 overall. Through 14 games, only three Irish players – Lukas Gillett, Anthony Winters and Bichler – had more than 10 points, which reinforced the need for strong defense. But defense hasn’t always been there for Rosemount, which has allowed six goals or more in five games.

“We felt like things were about to get better because we’ve had good practices the last few days,” Fraune said.

Stepan said he thought the Irish were entering a stretch that could define their season. The Irish play at Apple Valley (3-10) at 7 p.m. Saturday and will play host to Park of Cottage Grove (1-9-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Rosemount Community Center.

“Starting (Tuesday night), we thought we had three winnable games coming up,” Stepan said. “But we have to keep playing well in our own end.”

Eastview (8-6) had won its previous four games, including a 4-1 victory over 20th-ranked Lakeville South last Saturday. But the Lightning had trouble getting quality shots against Fraune, who said he was rarely screened.

The Lightning played at Rochester John Marshall on Thursday and goes to fourth-ranked Eagan at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.