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Hockey Day in Minnesota St. Cloud Style

By frederick61, 01/20/13, 1:15PM CST


A Burnsville defender checks a Sartell forward on his way to the Burnsville net in the Blaze’s 3-1 win in CIC Bantam A tourney pool play Saturday at Bernicks Pepsi Ice Skating Center

The seventh annual hockey day was celebrated in Grand Rapids yesterday.  It is becoming a tradition that all the hockey games that are part of the celebration are played outdoors.  Saturday at Grand Rapids, three high school hockey games were played outdoors and televised.  Other games were televised later in the day.

The idea was to celebrate hockey at all levels statewide through that single event.  But like any good idea, the idea of hockey day in Minnesota has grown.  Hockey celebrations on Hockey Day are starting to happen in smaller venues, doing less elaborate things, but still celebrating the sport in the state.

One thing that helps focus these celebrations is the youth tourneys that are held the same weekend throughout the state.  This weekend, two major peewee tournaments were held in the state.  One was held at Roseau and the other at St. Cloud.

The Roseau tourney commands more attention.  Usually the top teams at the peewee A level play there and that is no different this year.

But St. Cloud has a 12-16 team tourney every year at the Bantam A and Peewee A level and like Roseau, they use multiple arenas in St. Cloud to play the tournaments.  It is always a good tournament.

This year, Roseau tourney had all Minnesota teams entered.  St. Cloud had teams from Stevens Point Wisconsin (Bantam and Peewee), Fargo North Dakota (Peewee) and Hyland Hills Colorado (Bantam only) entered.

One way to celebrate Hockey Day is to just see some games.  This is what YHH saw at St. Cloud yesterday.

The focus for the St. Cloud tourney games is the MAC (Torrey and Ritsche Rinks are in the Municipal Athletic Complex).  These two rinks are side by side and games can be watched just by moving through doors. 

Some of the games were played at the National Hockey Center Rinks on the St. Cloud State University Campus.  The area around the National Hockey Center rinks has been under construction for years which makes parking confusing.

It is reminiscent of Athens Greece, always unfinished construction on every building.  In Athens, an unfinished building is never taxed fully so nobody completes a building.  At least the Greeks have a reason.

One surprising thing occurred at the National Hockey Center.  Roseau High School was in town to play St. Cloud Tech (they won 7-1).  The high school game was played in the small rink and the bantams played in the big arena.

Side note: Roseau’s high school team is led by Zach Yon, Alex Strand, Brady Castle, and Alex Halstensgard.  These four were on Roseau’s 2009 State Peewee Championship team that beat Edina in the semifinals and Woodbury in the finals.  Ten of the fifteen players on   Roseau’s  state championship peewee team are playing as juniors this year for the Rams.  The Edina team has five players from their 17 player 2009 team (both goalies, Dylan Malmquist, Tyler Nanne, and Miguel Fidler) playing the Hornets this year.

The final rink used for the Center Ice Classic is Sartell’s Bernicks Pepsi Arena Ice Skating Rink, home rink for Sartell.  It is a nice arena, but sits in a wide open area with wind blowing.  It made for interesting things on a windy Saturday.

Travel distance between the arenas was not great, but could sometimes be confusing.  On a sunny Saturday, the simplest route between the MAC and Bernicks was to follow the road fronting the MAC to County 133 and swing east to Sartell.  By two in the afternoon, with the wind blowing snow across the road, made that road a mile outside of St. Cloud slippery.  If you took a road a mile east, there was no problem.

In St. Cloud, everything was normal.  Five minutes outside St. Cloud, and the driving could get treacherous.

Saturday morning there were games going in all three arenas.  The MAC had peewee games going starting at 7:45 AM.

Black Pool

Apple Valley A lost to Anoka AA 5-1.  The Eagles were trialing the Tornadoes 2-1 going into the third period.  They killed two successive penalties at the start of the final period and then gave up two goals in two minutes in losing.  Apple Valley A lost to Shakopee A 8-5 in their second game and beat Sartell A 4-2 Sunday morning.  The Eagles had balanced scoring in the three pool games with 5 players getting three points. 

Anoka AA lost their second game of the day to Sartell A 3-0.  Sunday morning, they tied Shakopee A 4-4.  The Tornadoes scoring was also spread among the team.  Carter Perry for Anoka was the only Tornado with more than 1 goal.

Shakopee was the pool winner.  The Sabres beat Sartell 6-2 in addition to beating Apple Valley and tying Anoka.  Their 5 points was good enough for the #2 seed.  Luke Spanier scored the tying goal against Anoka in the final minute of play.  If he hadn’t scored, Anoka would have won the pool.  Spanier and Alex Miller led the Sabres in scoring in the three pool games with 6 points, both had 5 goals.

Sartell 3-0 win was the highlight of the tourney for them.  It was a good win.  Nathan Warner scored two of the three goals.  The low point had to be a 5 minute major for boarding near the end of the second period against Apple Valley that led to three Apple Valley power play goals and Sartell’s 4-2 loss.  The Eagles drew 10 penalties in that game and still hung on to win.

One oddity in this pool is that two kids had almost the same names, Luke Spanier for Shakopee and Lucas Spanier for Sartell.

Blue Pool

The Fargo Freeze Blue entered this tourney and got off with a bang beating Burnsville AA 7-1.  They lost their next two games big, to St. Cloud AA 9-1 and to Woodbury AA 6-0 Sunday morning. 

The first period of the Freeze’s game against St. Cloud was the best period of peewee hockey Saturday.  The two teams locked each other up in a defensive battle with the period ending in a 0-0 tie.  The ice was cleaned between the first and second period and the Freeze were blitzed giving up six goals in 9 minutes.  Freeze goalie Brody Herrick faced 19 shots in the second period.  St. Cloud went on to win 9-1.  Sunday morning the Freeze lost to Woodbury 6-0.

Burnsville never got untracked in their three games losing 6-1 to Woodbury and 9-1 to St. Cloud besides losing to the Freeze.  The Blaze played a discipline game but could never quite connect.  In one sequence against Woodbury, they neatly took the puck away from Woodbury at the Blaze blue line, turned it into a nice 3-on-2 passing play with the right side forward ending up at the weak side of the Woodbury goal only to have the puck take a weird hop over the Blaze forward’s stick.

St. Cloud and Woodbury battled it out for the Blue Pool championship in the first game Saturday morning at the MAC.  St. Cloud won 6-4.  The Red dominated Woodbury in the first period outshooting the Predators 14-6, but the period ended in a 1-1 tie.  They jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second and then had to come from behind to win the game in the last minutes of the third period.

Ben Ward (YHH top 50 pick last year) scored the winning goal on a breakaway.  Ward had to make a fast hard turn across the crease to beat the goalie’s skate save attempt and he did beat him by inches.  It was a great play.  Ward’s right hip could not have been more than 12 inches off the ice when he put the puck in the net.

St. Cloud beat Fargo Freeze 9-1 and Burnsville 9-1 in their other two pool games.

Ward and Nick Portz were the Red’s scoring leaders in pool play.  Portz got a hat trick against the Freeze.  Brad Amundsen, Noah Bissett, and James Anderson played well for St. Cloud.  St Cloud’s power play is one the best this year at the peewee level.

Woodbury has improved since their tourney in December.  Lucas Wahlin, Michael Fleischhacker, and Luke Landin were the scoring leaders for the Predators.  Woodbury’s tourney fate was not decided in the last minutes of their game with St. Cloud, it was decided in the Red Pool.  Woodbury got the Wildcard seed to the championship round.

Red Division

Hastings and Thief River Falls opened play in the Red Pool at St. Cloud Saturday morning.  Hasting took a 5-2 lead early in the third period and seemed to have the game won.  The Prowlers came back to cut the Raiders lead to 5-4.  With 5 minutes to go in the third period, Hastings caged the Prowlers in the Thief River Falls zone for nearly two minutes.  When the puck was cleared from the Prowler zone, four Thief River Falls players headed for the bench.  Unfortunately the puck only made it to the center line.

Hasting turned it into a 3-on-1 rush to take a 6-4 lead.  The Raiders added an empty netter to make it a 7-4 game.  The Raiders won their second Saturday beating a tough Mounds View team 4-2, but lost 6-0 to Stevens Point Sunday morning.  Jaden Axelrod, Joe Neuman, and Luke Reifenberger led the Raiders in scoring in pool play.

Thief River Falls lost another tough game Saturday losing 6-5 to Stevens Point and lost Sunday to Mounds View 8-2.  Brady Anderson and Aaron Meyers led the Prowlers in scoring.  The Prowlers’ goalie Brendon Mack played all three games and faced 122 shots on goal.  The majority of the shots were “quality scoring chances” from the Prowlers opponents.

Mounds View beat Stevens Point 3-2 in the opening game Saturday.  Mounds View was led in scoring by Joe Sutton.  Goalie Muzzy Donohue played three solid games in goal for the Mustangs.  Stevens Point’s Leo Knapp got the hat trick plus in their game with Thief River Falls.  He scored four goals.

The Mustangs ended up in a three way tie for the Red Pool Championship with Stevens Point and Hastings.  Mounds View won the pool championship based on the least goals against (8).  Stevens Point, Hastings, and Woodbury were then tied for the wildcard.  Woodbury won on least goals against (7).

Peewee A Championship Semifinals and other games

In the semifinal championship games Sunday night, St. Cloud beat Mounds View 11-4 and Woodbury beat Shakopee 5-3.  St. Cloud and Woodbury will tangle again after playing each other Saturday morning in pool play.  Mounds View and Shakopee will play for third place.

In other peewee A games Sunday night, Burnsville beat Thief River Falls 4-3, Stevens Point beat Anoka 5-1, Fargo Freeze Blue beat Hastings 4-2, and Apple Valley beat Sartell for the second time 3-2.

Bantam A Tourney Summary

In the Black Pool, Farmington AA tied the Grand Forks Sugarkings 1-1, beat Andover AA 2-1 and beat Orono A 7-1 to win the Black Division.  St. Cloud AA came back from a 2-1 loss to Hyland Hills Colorado on Saturday to beat Hastings AA 3-2 and Crookston A 5-0 to win the Blue Division.  Hyland Hills lost a tough game to Crookston A 6-5 Saturday evening and lost to Hastings AA 6-2.  In Hyland Hills win over St. Cloud, some fans were upset with the refs for not calling a goal when they felt it was a goal.  Here is a picture, you make the call. 

St. Cloud beat Crookston for the pool championship by having the least goals against. In the Red, Burnsville AA won all three pool games to advance beating Sartell 3-1, Lakeville South 3-2 and Stevens Point 5-0.  The Blaze got the #1 seed.  Andover edged Crookston for the wild card seed with the least goals against (7).

Sunday evening, Burnsville plays Andover and Farmington plays St. Cloud to advance to the championship game Monday morning.

As somebody famous once said, “any day is a good day to be at the rink”.  Hockey day makes it even a better day to be at the rink.

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