Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - March 25

By frederick61

Eight teams descended on Faribault last weekend with hopes of skating away as the PeeWee A Minnesota State Champions. Seven teams knew that to get there they would have to beat Edina, a team that dominated PeeWee A hockey the last two months of the year. Three teams had their chances to eliminate the Hornets and all three teams lost. The season ended with Edina taking their third state PeeWee A title in the past seven years.

Faribault Hockey Association and District 4 hosted the PeeWee A tourney at the Faribault Community Arena. On a pleasant March weekend in Minnesota, the tourney was well attended all three days.

Congratulations to all eight teams. As they know, making the state tourney is a tough long journey.

Friday’s quarterfinal games opened with Edina playing White Bear Lake. The Bears came to play and had a game plan that worked. They prevented the Hornets from tying them up in their defensive zone by “flying their wings” with the defensemen floating the puck high along the boards. Edina defensemen played most of the first two periods on the attack between the blue line and the red line.

Two Edina penalties in the first six minutes resulted in Bears taking a 2-0 lead. The Bears scored power-play goals off a rebound that was backhanded by the goalie and off a shot from the point that was tipped into the upper right hand corner passed a screened goalie.

With 10 minutes left in the second period, the Bears took a 3-0 lead on a power-play goal scored off a rebound on a shot from the right point. Trailing 3-0, the Hornets finally pressured the Bears defense, scoring off a scramble in front of the Bears net. Late in the period, the key point came. With the Edina fans constantly yelling for a penalty as the second period wound down, the ref listened and made two weak calls. The Hornets scored power-play goals off of each to end the second period tied 3-3.

The penalties did not stop for the Bears as Edina added two more power-play goals in the opening minutes of the third period. The first came on a tip from the point on a 5-on-3; the second came less then a minute later on a 5-on-4. The final score was 7-4. The shots on goal after the first period were 8-6 Edina, after the third they were 47-17. After the fans started yelling, the Bears drew eight penalties, Edina drew one.

Andover and Wayzata tangled in the second game on Friday. Both teams looked flat. The Huskies opened the scoring in the first on a breakaway goal through the 5-hole from the right face off to take a 1-0 lead. It lasted three minutes when a Trojan forward broke down the Andover defense to score a breakaway and tie the game 1-1. With the Trojans applying pressure, a rebound from the point ended up on a Trojan’s stick for a goal at the five minute mark. They added a mayhem goal off a scramble around the net to end the period 3-1.

Wayzata added two goals in the second, one scored on a breakaway one off a weird deflection – high shot that bounced off a defenseman heading wide of the net and then bounced off a stick into the left corner to take a 5-2. Each team added a third period goal to make the final 6-3.

Eden Prairie and Stillwater locked up in a defensive struggle that resulted in a low scoring game; but one of the better played hockey games of the day. The Eagles took a 2-1 into the third period and held on to win the game 2-1. The Ponies had their chances to tie and the Eagles had their chances to put the game away. It was a good game to watch.

Elk River opened the scoring in the final game of the day against Orono. It came off a scramble around the Spartan net less then two minutes into the game. Orono came back three minutes later when an Orono forward fought through two defensemen at the center blue line to score on a breakaway. A minute later, an Orono defenseman coughed up the puck and gave the Elks an open net second goal.

The Spartans came back to tie the score at the four minute mark on a goal from the top of the faceoff circle that found the upper left hand corner of the net. But the Elks came back to take the lead with less then a minute left. The period ended 3-2.
The Elks scored the only second period goal in the opening minutes off a pass from the right corner to front of the net. The game turned choppy. The rest of the period was skated with one team or the other shorthanded. Neither team on the power play could set up easily in their offensive zone as their defensemen constantly chased pucks behind their nets. The period ended 4-2, Elks leading.

With nine minutes to go in the third, the Elks drew a penalty. With the penalty time almost over, the Spartans finally gained the offensive zone and scored on a high shot from the center blue line that hit an Orono forward’s skate in mid-air (he was jumping to let the puck through) and deflected into the net. With four minutes to go in the game, the Elks drew another penalty, but the Spartans could not set up in the Elks zone. The score ended 4-3.

In Saturday’s consolation round, Andover beat White Bear Lake 8-1 and Orono beat Stillwater 5-1.

In Saturday’s championship round, Edina played Wayzata. The Hornets must have known what they were up against in the Trojan’s goalie, because they attacked quickly and scored three goals in the first nine minutes of the game. Goal No. 1 came off a short pass from the left side; goal No. 2 came off a shot from the top of the face off circle on the left; and goal No. 3 came off a rebound to the left that found a crack in the Wayzata goalie. The Trojans scored off a faceoff with less then two minutes remaining in the period to make the score 3-1.

Then the Trojan goalie said “no more.” He shut down the Edina offense. The Hornets struck time again in the second period, but could not score. The Trojans hung on in their defensive zone and again and again tried to break away, only to be shut down by the Edina defense. Few penalties were called. Finally with less then two minutes left, the Trojans scored from the slot to make the score 3-2. The period ended with shots on goal: Edina 32, Wayzata 9.

Nothing changed in the third, as Edina kept the pressure on the Wayzata defense and the Trojans struggling to break out. No penalties were called. The final score was 3-2, the final shots on goal on the scoreboard were 40-12, but the score keeper got tired registering the Wayzata stops. Edina shots should have been nearer to 60.

Elk River beat Eden Prairie 5-2 in the second game to set up Championship Sunday. In the consolation championship game, Andover beat Orono 6-4.

Wayzata and Eden Prairie played for third place in a memorable game. The first two periods were filled with penalties (16 total) and both teams played flat. The Eagles opened the scoring in the first on a shot from the top of the circle that hit the right side of the net. Wayzata scored less then 30 seconds later on a breakaway to tie the score 1-1. Eden Prairie scored again on a shot from the blue line past a screened goalie to the upper left hand corner. Two minutes later, Wayzata knotted the score 2-2 on a tip-in shot from the slot.

Both teams scored in the opening minutes of the third, Eden Prairie found that same upper left corner on a screen and Wayzata on a breakaway goal backhanded past the goalie. The Trojans finally took the lead scoring a breakaway goal with 10 minutes left.

The came the “play of the game” as an Eden Prairie kid took a shot from the point, his stick broke. With the blade heading to the net and the puck drifting to the corner, the kid skated to his bench stick in hand not realizing it broke before dropping it. No penalty called (good no call, the ref was on it). But an Eagle forward carried on, picked up the puck in the corner from the Wayzata defense and scored from the slot on shot that deflected off a Wayzata player to tie the score 4-4.

The first overtime was uneventful. Halfway through the second OT (4 on 4), the Wayzata goalie made a great save to keep the game going gloving a hard shot from less then five feet coming off a corner pass. In the waning seconds of the OT, a Trojan forward picked up a foolish penalty.

The third OT would be 3 on 3, playing to the Trojan’s strength, but the penalty forced the play to 4 on 3 and 4 on 4 hockey for the first two plus minutes. The Eagles didn’t score and with 7 plus minutes remaining, the game went to 3 on 3.

The Eagles stopped a Trojan’s one kid breakaway, turned the play into their own two kids breakaway and scored on a high hard shot. With the kids celebrating, the refs stepped in and ruled the net was off its moorings and re-started play. In the next 30 seconds, the play was repeated. Wayzata’s one kid breakaway was stopped and Eden Prairie two kid breakaway scored. This time the Eagles celebration was real. The final score 5-4 as they took the 3rd place trophy.

Edina and Elk River met for the championship. But after the great 3rd place game, it seemed anti-climatic. The teams started flat.

Edina scored late in the first off a rush ending with a tip-in to take a 1-0 lead. Elk River tied the score off a breakaway goal, backhanded past the goalie, in the opening minute of the second. Edina took the lead back a few minutes later when a errant puck ended up on an Edina’s forward stick and in the net on a shot past a screened goalie.

With Edina leading 2-1 and 11 minutes left in the game, an Edina forward lost his cool after being checked hard and retaliated a few seconds later with a bad check along the boards that drew a 5 minute major for boarding.

The Elks quickly capitalized, scoring a rebound goal that slid along the ice under a mass of players into the net. Still on the power play, the Elks scored again to take a 3-2 lead on shot that found the goalies 5-hole.

But Edina proved tough. Still playing short handed, an Edina forward took the next center face off, broke through three Elk River players, and scored on a short shot to the upper corner to knot the score 3-3. With less then a minute to go in the major penalty, the same Edina forward scored again on a breakaway to give the Hornets the championship. The final score was 5-3.

My all-state team is:
F-#22 Orono continued his all around play scoring five of the Spartans first eight goals. In beating Stillwater, he “played goalie” for two seconds by diving to block a Pony shot on the open net on the left, skating around the net and blocking a second attempt from the right by ducking his head and skating into the net corner.
F-#7 Edina literally lifted the Hornets to the state championship by scoring two short handed goals at a critical time in the third period to allow the Hornets to re-gain their game.
F-#12 Andover, after a slow start, powered the Huskies to the Consolation Championship.
D-#15 Elk River really up his play for the tourney and dominated his defensive zone in every game.
D-#9 Eden Prairie played smart defense and when needed became a goal scoring wing in the waning moments of their games.
G-#1 Wayzata kept the Trojans in their game with Andover (despite being outshot 32-26) and had an outstanding game against the Hornets making 37 saves on 40 shots, a good number hard shots from within 5 feet of the crease.

See you at the rink next October. Time to play baseball.

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