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Notes from Friday’s State Tourneys

By frederick61, 03/16/13, 6:15AM CDT


St. Michael/Albertville’s Zach Sjelin (behind the goalie and a Skipper defender to the right in the picture) scores the tying goal with Blake Spetz watching in the last minute of play to force an overtime (puck can be seen in the picture low inside the ri

YHH notes from the Peewee A tourney opening round games played in Faribault and the Peewee AA and Bantam AA tourney’s opening round games played in Edina Friday.

It is Edina and Wayzata’s Time….and STMA and Duluth East

As forecasted by YHH, Edina’s Braemar Arena is the place to be this afternoon and evening.  That prediction actually forecasted a strong turnout by Edina and Wayzata fans, but STMA and Duluth East peewee AA teams and bantam AA teams made it to the semifinals.  The Knight and Hound rooters were there in numbers.  The STMA rooters won the rooting battle in the Knights peewee A game against a large, loud, and boisterous goup of Minnetonka fans.

Early on Saturday, (11:30 AM), Duluth East and STMA will battle in one Bantam AA semifinal.  After that game, the Duluth East peewee AA will play Edina’s AAs at 1:40 PM.  YHH was not surprised by East’s 9-4 win over Centennial in the peewee AA quarterfinals, but were surprised that Edina AA’s could beat St Cloud 10-2.  Edina AA’s peewees scored 6 goals in the third period proving they were ready.

But those two games are just warm-ups.  Wayzata fans will be there in numbers for the late in the afternoon to root on their two AA teams (parking was in the streets Friday evening).  The Trojans’ Peewee AA team plays STMA with the game starting at 3:50 PM.  The big and much anticipated battle will be the last game played this Saturday evening between Edina and Wayzata’s bantam AA teams.

Most Exciting Peewee AA Game

STMA’s beat Minnetonka 4-3 in overtime.  The Knights looked beaten with the clock winding down in the third period.  Earlier in the period, they had scored to cut the Skipper’s lead to 3-2, but for most of the time after that goal, the Knights struggled to get the puck out of STMA’s half of the ice.

With 90 seconds left in the game, STMA got a faceoff, pulled their goalie and managed to keep the puck in the Skippers zone.  With just under a minute to go, Blake Spetz and Zach Sjelin put tremendous pressure on Minnetonka’s goalie Blaine Madson.  Madson came up with the big save on the left, but the puck rolled to the right to Sjelin’s stick.  Sjelin’s quick shot found a small opening beating a Skipper defenseman and Madson’s stick save attempt.  If the puck hadn’t gone turned vertical (on edge) on Sjelin’s shot, the Skippers would be playing Saturday’s semifinal.

The place erupted with that goal.  Four minutes into the overtime, it erupted again when STMA’s Garrett Sandberg scored on a hard shot the beat a Skipper defenseman’s check.  Sandberg scored from the outside edge of the right faceoff circle.  Madson, partially screened, almost made the stop.  But the puck rolled off his glove and into the net.  It was a great game.

After struggling at times during the season, the Skippers really played a great game.

Most Exciting Peewee A Game

Luverne and Cottage Grove opened the peewee A tourney in Faribault with a tight defensive battle.  The tight defensive battle was expected and as expected Cottage Grove’s goalie Luke Maul had a great game in the nets.  He needed to.  The Cardinals forwards played an outstanding game.  They moved the puck well and pressured the Cottage Grove defense for the first two periods. 

Luverne scored the only goal of the game in the first period.  The Cardinals’ Ben Serie tipped a Kasyn Kruse shot from the slot to put Luverne up 1-0.  Luverne had caught the Cottage Grove defense over shifted to the left side of the Wolfpack’s zone.  It was the silver bullet that ended the “Wolfmens” great late season run that got them to the state tourney.

The Luverne forwards carried their team through the first two periods by keeping constant pressure on Cottage Grove in the Wolfpack’s half of the ice.  In the third period, that changed.  Cottage Grove’s forwards went to work and pinned the Cardinals in the Luverne zone most of the third period.  They put 15 shots on the net (YHH count) but couldn’t beat the Cardinal’s goalie Daniel Tofteland.  Part of that reason was Luverne defenseman, Trey Roberts.  Roberts used his size to foil the Wolfpack attack in the corners and send the puck to neutral ice, playing most of the third period.  But he also has the ability to recover more than once and adjust to the new point of attack.  A times he is plays like the last Starfghter’s “Death Blossom”; then goes to the bench to re-load.

Why you can’t count a team out at state.

East Grand Forks, on paper, looks to be the weakest team in the peewee A state tourney.  The Green Waver scored first in their quarterfinal game against the Minneapolis Storm and then gave up 4 first period goals to the Storm.  The Storm looked tough in that first period, the Green Wave defense looked suspect.  Trailing 5-1 late in the second period, EGF scored in the last minute and added another goal in the opening minutes of play in the third to cut the Storm’s lead to 5-3.  The Storm hung on to win 6-3.

If you don’t believe that, ask Orono and Edina A.  Both teams had big early leads, Orono had to hang on to one goal lead in the third before scoring an insurance goal late in the period and winning 5-3; Edina A saw a big lead cut to 6-4 in the third before winning 7-4.  What looked on paper to be easy wins, turned into battles.

Best sign inside an arena

East Grand Forks fans had posted a sign at the end of the Faribault Arena that read “East Grand Forks Home Grown Hockey”. 

Best sign outside an arena

On the back of a suburban, the sign said it all-“We love hockey”.

Best Fans

STMA’s bantam AA played early in the day and won.  The team stayed and supported their peewee AA team in their 4-3 ot win over Minnetonka.  They were loud, but behaved well and moved to the side opposite Minnetonka and cheered.  They really added to the atmosphere and helped inspire the STMA peewee AA’s in their come from behind last minute win over Minnetonka. 


YHH alluded to the fact that the older teams tend to find a way to win, but it was still a surprise to see STMA and Duluth East Bantam AA teams beat the young guns from Prior Lake and Osseo/Maple Grove.  Both Prior Lake and OMG had a number of first year players from last year’s peewee A state tourney teams.  STMA and Duluth East had older players (hard to think that 6-12 months as being older) so there is something to be said about “old age and treachery” that can’t be beaten even at the age of 14 and 15.

Wait until next year

To paraphrase what Arnold says in the movie, “will we be back”.  Prior Lake and OMG will have half of their teams returning next year if a high school does rob them.  They could met in the state championship in 2014.  That would be a game.

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