BOYS HOCKEY: Green Wave faces star trio in game against Warroad
The East Grand Forks Senior High boys hockey team is facing Minnesota’s top three scorers Thursday, but Green Wave coach Tyler Palmiscno isn’t worried about individual matchups.
Warroad boasts three players on the same line with at least 89 points this year in center Jared Bethune (34 goals, 56 assists), left wing Kobe Roth (42-47) and right wing Kyle Sylvester (40-49).
Palmiscno isn’t stressing matchups because he said it’ll take a complete team effort.
“It has to be six guys on the ice committed to doing a job,” said Palmiscno, whose team faces the Warriors at 7 p.m. at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls in the title game of the Minnesota Section 8A tournament. “You can’t stop that line with one player, you can’t stop that line with one line and you can’t stop that line with one ‘D’ pairing.”
Warroad’s star trio has led the Warriors to a 22-4-1 record and the No. 2 seed in the section tournament. Bethune and Roth just recently committed to play college hockey at Minnesota Duluth, while Sylvester remains uncommitted.
“They’ll generate opportunities,” said Palmiscno, whose team is 24-2-1 and the top seed in the section. “They’re as good as any line in the state, no doubt, but we can’t give them opportunities by making mistakes with the puck.”
The Green Wave, who are looking to get back to the state tournament for the second year in a row, have had mixed results against the Warriors this year. Senior High tied Warroad 2-2 early in the year and later beat the Warriors 5-1.
Senior High senior defenseman Colton Poolman doesn’t expect another four-goal game.
“We got a couple of bounces, and I remember they hit a couple of pipes,” Poolman said of the second meeting between the teams.
Poolman agreed with Palmiscno that the Green Wave will need a collective effort to counter Warroad’s high-end scoring power.
“They have a really good offense that we have to be careful of,” Poolman said. “We have to be aware and play team defense when that Bethune line is on the ice. We have to play like we have been playing because we’re on a roll right now.”
Senior High enters the section championship on a 16-game win streak after rolling through the section quarterfinals and semifinals by a combined score of 18-1.
“I like the way we’re playing,” Palmiscno said. “We’ve slowly gotten better the last five weeks of the season. We’ve seen gradual improvement as the season went along.”
Senior High’s matchup with Warroad will be the Warriors’ Big Three against the Wave’s depth.
The Wave have eight players with at least 20 points, led by Dixon Bowen’s 17 goals and 19 assists.
Bowen, a junior forward, missed 10 games early in the year with an injury and his return has given the Wave a shot in the arm.
“In the middle of the year, we were struggling to score, even though we were getting chances and shots,” Poolman said. “When Dixon came back, it was a big boost to our team. He’s a playmaker out there.”
But storylines aside, Palmiscno said the key to the game is basic.
“It’s two very good hockey teams playing with the opportunity to play in St. Paul next weekend,” he said. “The bottom line is it will come down to who wins foot races and who wins battles.”