Note: Every once in a while, the refs show up but don’t really referee the game. They sit back and take it easy. That happened in this game last night and cost Sibley a key tie breaking goal in the third period. Lakeville North came to play a game; Sibley came to play a half a game and to hang on for half a game. The Panthers deserved the win. Still the refs “can’t phone in the game”. They need to show up and referee.
The D8 game played last night at Wakota arena matched two teams that would vie for the regular season D8 title, Lakeville North and Sibley. Lakeville North is unbeaten in their first three D8 games having tied Woodbury, beat IGH/SSP, and beat Apple Valley. The Panthers had a better than expected tourney last week at Eden Prairie, losing to Prior Lake/Savage AA 4-3, beating Andover AA 4-2 and losing to Eden Prairie 5-0.
Last night’s game was Sibley’s second D8 game of the season. It was the Warriors first game since winning the Spring Lake Park tourney 11 days ago. Sibley has played few games this season. For those looking ahead, the Warriors have scheduled an early January game with the Edina A peewees-two teams that are likely to play each other in the Peewee A East Regional at Wakota Arena next March. But their December schedule consists of D8 league games.
The long layoff didn’t appear to hurt the Warriors at first. They came out and steamrolled the North defense, dominating play in the first period. Sibley took control of the game from the opening face off of the first period. They established control of the puck in the Panther’s zone and moved the puck around the perimeter with ease.
But Sibley seldom attacked the net. The team was always making that extra pass and letting good scoring opportunities go. They played the first period as a team, but like “Alphonse and Gaston”, they were too polite. It showed. Sibley ended the period with 6 shots on goal.
The Warriors had controlled the puck for 10 of the 12 minutes inside the Panthers’ zone. In the two minutes the Panthers had the puck, they managed four shots on net.
With 3 minutes left in the opening period, Sibley’s Luke Herzog made a nice pass to Chad Crocker in the slot. Crocker one timed the puck into the net to put Sibley up 1-0. Herzog got the assist.
Two things became apparent as the first period wound down. The Lakeville North was getting aggressive in their attempts to knock the Sibley players off the puck and the Lakeville North forwards were starting to beat the Sibley defense at the Panther’s blue line.
Sibley still dominated the first four minutes of the second period, holding North in the Panther’s end of the ice, still not taking advantage of scoring opportunities. But the pace of the game had slowed. At the 8 minute mark, the pressure shifted. The Panthers began to establish control in the Sibley zone, forcing the Warriors to scramble on defense.
At the 7 minute mark, a Panther shot on goal was bobbled by the goalie. Lakeville’s Spencer Schneider picked up the loose puck and put in the net to tie the game 1-1. The goal was unassisted. North still kept the pressure on, but with two minutes left in the period, drew a penalty for tripping. It was the first penalty called in the game.
Sibley failed to score on the power play, but the momentum shifted to the Warriors. The last minute of the second period was “all Sibley”.
The third period started slow. Sibley had become more tentative in their play. Then came the first of two key plays of the game. A Warrior forward broke into the Panther’s zone and fired a hard shot that went through the goalie and rolled into the net. It crossed the goal line by six inches, but a Panther defender scooped it out of the net and kept on playing. He must have known the ref on the right side rarely skated into the Panther zone.
With 7 minutes left on the clock, Sibley drew an interference penalty and the Panthers attacked the Sibley zone on the power play. Jeremy Santiago scored after the Sibley goalie made the initial save. It was an unassisted goal and gave the Panthers’ their first lead, 2-1.
The second key play came a minute later. Lakeville North’s Matt Preston picked up the puck in Sibley zone and cut right to left into the slot in front of the Sibley net and shot. He caught the Sibley goalie playing back in the net. Max McCarthy got the assist.
Thirty seconds later, North’s Blake Brandt made the same move catching the Sibley goalie playing back in the net and scored on the same shot to give North a 4-1 lead. Garrett Daly got the assist. Lakeville North won 4-1.
Until last night’s game, the battle for the D8 title looked to be between three teams, Lakeville South, Eastview, and Sibley. Now, Lakeville North can be added to the mix.