Wisconsin Seniors (red) forward Peter Verstegen battles for the puck along the boards in the neutral zone with North Dakota's Isaiah Thomas during the second period. Photo by Drew Herron
Outplayed for most of three periods, but trailing by just one with its goalie on the bench and an extra attacker on the ice, North Dakota needed some luck.
When Wisconsin Seniors goaltender Ryan Kenney misplayed a dumped puck behind the net and accidentally delivered it to the blade of hard-charging North Dakota forward Jake Arel (Grand Forks Red River) high in the slot, it provided the window of opportunity North Dakota had been holding out for.
When Arel fired home a wrist shot into the open net with eight seconds remaining, it capped off an improbable 3-3 tie that seemed as though North Dakota had no business finishing level with a Wisconsin team that had outshot them 43-14 on the night.
Such is hockey.
North Dakota rallied with a pair of third period goals to catch Wisconsin, who held the upper hand for most of three periods.
Wisconsin got early scores from Tyler Jensen (Beloit Memorial) and Dawson Schwengler (Eau Claire Memorial) in the first period as the red team held command early. When North Dakota broke the silence late in the second period with Easton Bennet’s (Minot) power play goal, Wisconsin answered 30 seconds later when Connor Zilisch (Appleton United) struck at even strength.
The loss could not sting the reds for long, as Wisconsin would eventually place first in Pool B, and earn a spot in the championship Sunday afternoon against the Michigan Seniors.
Kenny (Madison Memorial) finished with 11 saves on 14 shots, while his counterpart, Ethan Peterson (Park River), kept the green squad involved despite the heavy pressure in stopping 40 of 43 shots he faced. - GAMEPAGE-Drew Herron / Minnesota Hockey
Wisconsin Juniors forward Hutson Collins fires off a snapshot from the right circle during the third period of Saturday's 3-3 tie against Michigan Seniors. Photo by Drew Herron
Three lead changes and three ties resulted in a 3-3 draw Saturday afternoon as Michigan Seniors and Wisconsin Juniors closed down pool play. It was enough to win the pool for Michigan, and drop the grays from Wisconsin to third.
Wisconsin forward Jack Gorniak (West Salem) opened the scoring at 6:03 of the first period, though Michigan’s Brett Lanski (Romeo) would answer later in the frame to level the score. It was a script that repeated twice more.
After Zachary Sprys-Tellner (Detroit Catholic Central) converted midway through the second to push the blue squad from Michigan ahead for the first time, Christian Harkins (Sun Prairie) answered for Wisconsin early in the third to ensure a seesaw fight.
Ten penalties were drawn between the two sides, split an even five apiece.
Knotted at 2-2 in the third, the teams again exchanged scores. First, Frank Ruffino (Romeo) put Michigan out front again, but Wisconsin would rally late and pulled even again when Jaron Pangborn (Liggett) scored again with 1:25 left.
In net for Wisconsin, Colin Ahern (St. Mary’s Springs) stopped 22 of 25 shots. His counterpart, Brett Miller (Northville) made 36 of 39 shots between the pipes for Michigan. - GAMEPAGE- Drew Herron / Minnesota Hockey
Michigan Juniors goalie Tanner Beals stops a scoring chance during the first period of the team's 3-3 tie with the Minnesota Juniors. Photo by Drew Herron
The junior squads from Michigan and Minnesota skated to a 3-3 tie Saturday afternoon in a fiery clash of two skilled and hungry teams.
Shutout and trailing by a pair of goals entering the third period, Minnesota rallied to score three times and pull even. Late in the period, Minnesota put its goalie on the bench despite being tied, and it made for a tense finish in the Michigan zone. With two previous ties and facing a third, the Whites desperately needed a victory, and with an even goal differential, the team knew it was upside down with Wisconsin (+4) for the chance to win the pool play.
Instead, Michigan clamped down to preserve the tie, and finish the Pool B round robin with a 1-1-1 mark to finish second, and drop MInnesota to third.
Between the two teams, 12 penalties were assessed, and each side converted once with the man advantage.
Michigan led early after goals from Josh Albring (Hartland) and Tyler Haydu (Livonia Churchill), and got a third from Case Kantgias (Cranbrook) 59 seconds into the third period.
Minnesota’s first score came 31 seconds into the final period when Jack Olsen (Lakeville South) converted to briefly make it a one-goal game before Kantgias would score a very short time later.
From there, Minnesota answered with two goals over a two minute span to draw even. Carter Randklev (Moorhead) scored on a power play at 4:53, and at 6:46 Blake Brandt (Lakeville North) would add another.
Both teams went with one goalie the entire way. Matt Fitzgerald (Bemidji) manned the crease for Minnesota and stopped 20 of 23 shots. At the other end of the rink, Tanner Beals (Orchard Lake St. Mary's) faced 33 shots and turned aside 30. - GAMEPAGE
- Drew Herron / Minnesota Hockey
Minnesota Seniors celebrate after Jack Johnston's (center) goal in the opening period against Massachusetts Saturday morning at Plymouth Ice Center. Photo by Drew Herron
If the early bird does indeed get the worm, the Minnesota Seniors feasted banquet style Saturday morning as the gold squad put up seven goals in the opening period en route to a 13-0 trouncing of Massachusetts.
Minnesota needed just 49 seconds to permanently seize the lead when blue liner Noah Ganske (Bloomington Jefferson) fired home a shot from the point to push the gold team on its way.
Puck possession played a big role in Minnesota’s victory as the team spent the majority of the time cycling in the offensive zone, and working the puck from low to high. Early on especially, Minnesota most of its scoring plays that originated from the corners and behind the net as Massachusetts struggled to contain the gold team’s speed and firepower.
Carter Breitenfeldt (Breck) would record a hat trick by the second period, and finished with four for the game, while Hunter Johannes (Eden Prairie) and Matt Valure (Hermantown) both finished with a pair of goals. Jesse Jacques (Hermantown) finished with three assists to notch the playmaker.
Eight different skaters scored goals for Minnesota Saturday, and 14 different players finished with at least one point.
Reid Waszczenko (Wayzata) started the game between the pipes for Minnesota and Justin Evenson (Minnehaha Academy) relieved him midway through the second period. The two combined for the shutout by stopping 13 total shots.
In net for Massachusetts, Owen O’Brien (Marlboro) played the first period and a half, where he saw 43 shots and stopped 36 of them. Corey Splaine (St. Johns) relieved him, and stopped 21 of 25 shots. - GAMEPAGE
- Drew Herron / Minnesota Hockey
12:15 - Minnesota Juniors vs Michigan Juniors
2:30 - Michigan Seniors vs Wisconsin Juniors
4:45 - North Dakota vs Wisconsin Seniors