The Grey team representing Section 6A/6AA poses for a group photo after defeating Section 7 Gold Sunday afternoon for the High Performance 17 championship. The Grey squad scored 17 goals over three games. Photo by Drew Herron
For all of three days, the Grey team representing Section 6A/6AA scored goals, moved the puck crisply, transitioned well, forechecked hard and capitalized on enough chances.
The result was three wins, and a festival championship at this weekend’s (March 28-30) HP17 Festival at Plymouth Ice Center.
The 6s were driven by players familiar with each other as St. Cloud Cathedral, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, and Blake players would execute to play well with others, but especially with their high school teammates.
Cathedral, crowned the high school league’s Class 1A state champions earlier this month, have five skaters on the U17 team, and most notably Blake Perbix and Jack Smith. The two of them combined for five points in the final game, a 5-2 win over Section 7 Gold, and finished as the festivals top two leading scorers.
Smith, a 5-foot-11 and 180 pound left shot forward, finished with four goals and four assists for eight points in three games, Perbix proved sound with the puck and dished out five assists on top of two goals.
Moreover, Section 6 teammate Nate Schweitzer from Benilde-St. Margaret’s dealt out five assists (1-5-6) to mark out the top three spots on the stat leaders. Schweitzer was one of five Red Knights on the team.
Section 6 finished with 19 goals, the most out of any team including the HP16s, and five greater than Section 7 Gold, while allowing just six for the entire tournament. Goaltending was another major factor for Grey, as Louden Hoigg (Edina) and Dane Couture (Little Falls) finish with a festival best .923 save percentage, and second best goals-against-average
Section 1 used its speed and pressure to jump out early, then matched Section 8’s physicality down the stretch to pick up a 5-2 victory that clinches third place for the Red squad.
Section 1 grabbed the lead for good less than 10 minutes into play when Lyncoln Bielenberg-Howarth (Rochester Century) scored, assisted by Dominic Valento (Owatonna) and Owen Baumgartner (Shattuck-St. Mary’s).
Red teammate Jack Novak (Lakeville South) added to Section 1’s lead later in the period and Section 1 was able to steadily pull as the game wore on.
Bielenberg-Howarth finished with a goal and an assist as the only player with multiple points for the game. For the tournament, Bielenberg-Howarth finished tied for the team lead with three points. Baumgartner also finished with three points with one goal and two assists.
In net, Carsen Stokes (Shattuck-St. Mary’s) and Zach Weise (Owatonna) combined for the victory and collectively stopped 19 saves. Stokes made 13 saves on 15 shots, and Weise was six-of-six in the first half.
Blue goalie Thomas Kuriscak (St. Paul Academy) stops the puck short of the goal to squash a scoring chance and preserve the shutout late in the second half Sunday. Blue defeated Green 3-0 to win the consolation round. Photo by Drew Herron
Blue goaltenders Vincent Castetelletti and Thomas Kuriscak combined for the shutout as Section 5 blanked Section 3 in Sunday’s consolation final, 3-0.
Scoreless at halftime, Blue opened the scoring 1:35 into the second half when Mike Sweetland (Stillwater) buried a wrist shot from the slot, assisted by Henry Eischen (Hill-Murray) and Nikolai Dulak (Mahtomedi), and Section 4 was out front for good.
Less than a minute later, Camden Benson (Stillwater) took a feed from Sam Newpower (White Bear Lake) and converted on the chance with 21:37 to go. Playing with the lead, Blue added another a short time alter when Noah Tussey (Stillwater) scored an even strength goal that allowed Section 4 to pull away.
Newpower finishes the festival with a team-best three points (1-2-3), while Tussey, Dulak and Brock Bertelsen (Tartan) all finished with a goal and an assist over three games.
In net, Castelletti (Minnesota Blue Ox) stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first half, and Kuriscak (St. Paul Academy) made 10 saves on 10 shots in the second.
Sky Blue forward Thomas Carls (Coon Rapids) is denied on a scoring chance by Green goaltender Josh Weyandt during the first half. Carls would go on to score twice in second half to help lead the Sky Blue to a 4-1 win. Photo by Drew Herron
Sky Blue celebrates a goal during the first half of Sunday's game.
Thomas Carls (Coon Rapids) scored twice in the second half, and goaltender Leo Troje stopped all 25 shots he faced after the break to help lead Section 5 to a convincing 4-1 victory that wrapped up seventh place Sunday at Plymouth Ice Center.
Scoreless for most of the opening half, Section 2 would strike first when Peter Aslakson (Eden Prairie) rifled in a long range wrist shot from just below the blueline that gave Orange an early lead, but only briefly.
A little more than two minutes later, Sky Blue would answer with two quick goals from Jack Reimann (Blaine) and Joseph Kerchner (North Branch), and the squad from Section 5 was on its way.
Orange stepped up its pressure in the second half, but Troje kept a lid on Section 2’s offense down the stretch. Teaming up with Troje in net was Jake Turek of North Branch. Turek made 12 saves on 13 shots in the first half. - Drew Herron