Gauger a key part of Marlins’ title gameThe Mitchell Marlins boys’ hockey team was known for its high-powered offense all season.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell Marlins boys’ hockey team was known for its high-powered offense all season.
But the Marlins’ biggest game of the year ended in a 2-0 win, after a shutout performance in the biggest game of Weston Gauger’s life.
Gauger, the Marlins’ only goalie, stopped all 25 shots he faced as Mitchell took down the previously undefeated Brookings Rangers.
“I don’t think he could talk after the game,” Mitchell head coach John Lord said. “He was on cloud nine. He made some incredible saves.”
In just his sophomore year, Gauger helped his team capture the state title and shut out the league’s highest-scoring team.
“I feel really good about how I did,” Gauger said. “My team really needed me this weekend and I knew I had to step up and play really well.”
During the regular season the Marlins gave up 74 goals, which was the fourth-most in the league and the second-most among state-qualifying teams.
“Throughout the year we were putting up six to 10 goals (a game),” Lord said. “But a lot of times we were giving up five to eight as well.”
In its three state tournament games the Marlins gave up a tournament-low four goals.
“We couldn’t have asked for better defense,” Lord said. “And our goalie needed to come and play.”
The Marlins took down Aberdeen 7-3 in the opening game and Lord continued to preach defense to his team.
After a 3-1 victory over Oahe (Pierre) in the semifinals the team started to feel more confident in their young goalie.
“He may have been nervous but it certainly did not affect his play,” Lord said.
This season saw some tough times for Gauger, who was in net for the Marlins in every game.
“It was difficult because even if I had a rough game I had to stick through it and keep playing,” he said.
Gauger’s hard work paid off as the Marlins won their second state title.
“It kind of seemed unreal,” Gauger said. “I was kind of wondering if it was a dream or not. I was so emotional knowing that (we) won a state title.”