Southern Oregon drops its first game at nationals

ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Southern Oregon Spartans out shot the New Jersey Rockets but dropped a 2-1 decision in the opening game of pool play in the 12-team USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championships Friday.

The 16th-ranked Spartans (40-10) took a 1-0 first-period lead on Michael Tallo's goal off assists from Mike Leskun and Nick DeSimone with 14:30 gone.

Both New Jersey scores came in the second period. The 60th-ranked Rockets got the equalizer on a powerplay goal from Frank Coscia, then Travis Geraci netted what proved to be the game winner. Ryan Hitchcock assisted on both goals.

Each team took 13 shots in the final period, but the Spartans had a 37-27 edge in the game.

Winning goalie Stephen East recorded 36 saves, while the Spartans Zach Woodman stopped 25 of 27 shots.

Southern Oregon will play the seventh-ranked Rochester Ice Hawks in pool action at 5 p.m. PDT today. The team with the best record in each of the three pools, along with one wild card, will advance to the semifinals.

New Jersey Rockets 0 2 0 — 2

Southern Oregon Spartans 1 0 0 — 1

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