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Grey Edges Black 2-1 in Red/Black

By frederick61, 09/15/15, 1:45PM CDT


Black's TJ Rogers/Minnetonka stopped by Grey goalie Jack Schechtman/Minnetonka

This past weekend, the Red/Black League kicked off their 2015 season with a round of five games played Sunday at Eden Prairie.  After a successful second season last fall followed by an equally successful spring league last April/May, the Red/Black League success continues this fall.  The league has grown in their third year to 10 teams.  Each Red/Black team will play 18 games over the next six weeks.  Regular season standings are kept.  The 10 teams will then be seeded into a season ending playoff the last week in October.  Each Red/Black team provides an informal game environment for high school players to test their skills playing at a high school level.  Often that testing occurs in a faster paced game than a high school game.  Additionally, each player in the fall Red/Black League will likely have more ice time per game over the next six weeks than they are likely to get playing for their high schools in the 2015-2016 (25 games) regular season.  The Red/Black Fall league is fast becoming one of the top leagues in the USA.  YHH will cover Red/Black games over the next six weeks with the goal to post game stories on each team.    

Black's TJ Rogers/Minnetonka (#77) left cuts Grey's lead to 2-1 with two minutes left to play.

Monday night Grey beat Black 2-1 in a game played at the Burnsville Ice Arena.  While most sports fans were focused on the Viking/San Francisco football game, these two teams played a wide open style that is common in the league that bans hard checking, especially along the boards.  Both the Grey and Black teams moved the hockey version of the scrimmage line up and down the ice in their second game of the season.  Their play showed the defensive maturity of the league.  This season, with about 50% of the Red/Black players on the 10 rosters returning, each team's defensive corps was stopping rushes in their defensive zone.  That is a nice testament to the league’s organizers.

After the first two days of play, the league’s trend is towards lower scoring games proving that developing players on each team’s defensive corps are finding ways to cope with the “no hard check” rule.  Last season, at this point, games were often decided by 7-5 score.

Grey edges Black 2-1

Monday night, the Red/Black League’s Grey team beat the Black 2-1 at Burnsville’s Ice Arena.  It was a tough game time conflicting with the Vikings playing San Francisco.  But the game turned into a wide open skating affair with each team playing tough defense and each goalie cleaning up what the defenders didn’t stop.  Despite the tough defense, it was a wide open game because each team could generate the initial rush out of their zone, but could not convert the rushes into scores except for Grey’s Lucas Smith.  Smith scored both Grey goals off breakaways.

Both teams started the game up tempo.  The Black offense initially led by a contingent of Chanhassen players (Sam Swisher, Patrick Newell, and Justin Kauls) easily turned the play and pressured Grey low in the Grey zone in the opening minutes of play.  But that dominance started to shift seven minutes into the opening 25 minute half.  Grey’s defense was started to click on the short pass and the Grey wings were beating the Black defense at the Grey blue line forcing the Black defenders slightly into the neutral ice setting up the Grey breakout.

The Grey offense was led by Lucas Smith.  The Hill-Murray sophomore centered junior Dylan Andres/Stillwater and senior Sam Barnes/Park Cottage Grove.  That line started to dominate at the Grey blue line and like the San Francisco 49’s moving the ball down the field, pushed hockey’s version of the scrimmage line more and more into the slot area in front of Black's goalie Jack Bernhagan/Orono.  The Black defensive corps still managed to force the play to the outside and once the puck was along the boards, turn the breakout play.  But as the first half was ending, the Black offense was starting to get beat trying to turn the corner in the Grey zone-except for the Black line led by TJ Rogers/Minnetonka.  A sophomore last year for the Skippers, Rogers was on the ice when the Skippers lost 2-1 to Eden Prairie in the Section 6AA finals.

Grey junior defense man Matt Stansbury/Farmington looks up ice before picking up the loose puck along the boards.

With less than a minute left in the half, Grey’s line of Smith, Andres, and Barnes broke out of their zone setting up Smith in Black’s left side face off circle on the rush.  Smith made a strong cut to the slot, clearing the Black defense, and buried a quick shot to put Grey up 1-0 as the opening half ended.

The second half opened with the same up tempo speed.  Taking only a couple minutes to rest, the teams passed on cleaning the ice, and went at each other for another 25 minutes.  Over the first 10 minutes was an up and down battle with the defensive corps succeeding in their zones driving the offensive rushes wide.  With 15 minutes left in the game Grey’s line of Smith, Andres, and Barnes struck again.  This time they hit Smith breaking into the top of the slot.  Smith beat the defense, went right on Bernhagen and banged the puck off Bernhagen’s pad low and into the net.  Grey led 2-0 and continued to dominate the play low around the net.  But between the Black defensive corps and Bernhagen, the Grey forwards could not get that good clean shot on the net.

With time running down, the Black forwards began to pressure the Grey in the Grey zone.  With just over three minutes left in the game, Grey drew a penalty.  On the following power play, Black kept possession off the face off in the Grey zone eventually driving the puck low left to right off of Grey goalie Jack Schechtman’s pads.  The puck bounced loose in the right crease to Rogers.  The Skipper forward top shelved the puck over Schechtman’s glove to cut the lead to 2-1 with two minutes left on the clock.  Black pulled their goaltender in the last two minutes of play, but could not beat Schechtman or the Grey defensive corps again.  Grey won 2-1.       

Lucas Smith scores the game winner as Grey beat Black 2-1 Monday evening at Burnsville. It was Smith's second goal of the game.

Jack Schechtman was in the nets for the Grey and played well.  The junior netminder from Minnetonka was instrumental in the Grey win stopping 35 of 36 Black shots (YHH count) including a half dozen shots in the the last two minutes when Black pulled their goalie and controlled the puck inside the Grey zone. 

Jack Bernhagen, in the nets for Black, saw more consistent pressure in the game than Schechtman.  The Grey attacks often lasted a minute on the clock before the defensive could clear.  Bernhagen ended the game stopping 40 of 42 Grey shots (YHH count).  A junior at Orono this coming season, Bernhagen is in the mix to replace Jon Flakne, Orno’s outstanding goaltender last season.  Last night, he played well in the first half and struggled at times in the second.  But Bernhagen had a good season last fall in the Red/Black league and should hit his form as the season progresses.

Lucas Smith had an impressive game and that bodes well for Hill-Murray.  With six of the Pioneer’s forwards from last March’s Class AA State Tourney team gone, Smith should “pop out” this season.  He is a player to watch this season.  Minnetonka’s Rogers played strong deep into the game and used his body well and should add to the Skippers' hockey fortunes.


The Vikings were just getting going as the game ended.  They stopped the 49er’s inside the Vikings 20 yard line, ran three plays punted, recovered a fumble on the punt return, ran three plays and missed a three pointer.  At the point, it was time to stop listening.  The scrimmage line would be in front of the Vikings’ goal for most of that game.  At least the Black defense could counter the Grey and make it a close game.  The Vikings?  They lost 20-3.