By: Lucas Ailport
The Eastside Freeze kicked off its much anticipated season against the Minneapolis Wheat Kings on Monday night. It was a nail-biter from start to finish and the game served as a gauge for how the rest of the season will pan out. Minneapolis held tight to seal a 14-11 win.
Aime Caines led the team in points with two goals and six assists. Will McKinney, Freeze’s returning star forward picked up right where he left off last season. He found the back of the net four times and dished out three assists. Jake Pitts was right there with McKinney with four goals.
Eastside’s first-year IBLA goalkeeper made quite the statement Monday night, proving he’s got the capabilities to be successful in the league. Joseph Brothers tallied 40 saves from 54 shots on goal. The game could have gotten out of hand quickly if it wasn’t for Brothers’ fast reflexes.
Minneapolis is notorious for playing teams out in the first period and picks up the intensity in the second. Eastside put their foot on the gas in the first and coasted to an early 6-0 lead with goals from Caines, McKinney and Pitts.
The Wheat Kings crept back into the game and scored two goals to end the first period. Minneapolis continued that momentum into the second period by scoring two more to start the period, that put the score at 7-4 Eastside.
Pitts and McKinney scored the only goals for the Freeze in the second period. Before McKinney’s goal, Minneapolis had scored five straight before McKinney found the back of the net twice late in the second.
Although Eastside fought back, Minneapolis still managed to outscore the Freeze in the third. The Wheat Kings added some insurance with four goals. Eastside generated some offense with two goals by Pitts and McKinney.
Eastside has just six players who return from last season. The Freeze will look to continue to gain chemistry with 17 players and two goalies. A much better turnout than last season when one could find just three players on the Freeze’s bench.
Eastside’s next bout is against the Lakeville Lumberjacks on Friday at 7 p.m. in Cottage Grove.