Team Northwest's Dylan Steman, right, draws a penalty late in the third period as he gets tangled with Team Southwest's Jimmy Schuldt of Minnetonka. Photo by Helen Nelson
The most satisfying way in hockey to seal a big win is always with an empty net goal.
Team Northeast forward Dylan Steman of Maple Grove put his stamp on a 7-5 Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League win over Team Southwest with his version of the classic on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
As time expired, Steman flipped the puck from around his own blue line and it found a home just inside the post at the other end of the rink.
“I was just trying to get it out and keep the win,” Steman said about the goal. “I got lucky, my little backhand floated in the net.”
Steman leads Team Northeast with 25 points, including 10 goals. He scored 15 goals last winter for Maple Grove during the high school season. He is plenty familiar with putting the puck between the pipes. To him, his last shift was more about winning the game.
With the score at 6-5, Team Northeast suddenly was put on the penalty kill when teammate C.J. Franklin of Forest Lake was sent to the box for tripping with less than a minute to go.
In response, Team Northeast’s coaches decided to put their big gun on the ice.
“It’s important. It means they have a little trust in you.” Steman said of his coaches. “Usually they put the guys they think that can get it done out there at that time.”
Steman will be counted on to be a crunch-time hero his senior season. Steman led the Crimson in scoring last year with 44 points and took them all the way to the section finals, where they lost to Blaine for the second year in a row.
When asked about getting past Blaine, Steman was convinced it wasn’t a trend.
“You just can’t really think about that,” he said. “We can’t get down on ourselves, we just have to pursue through it.”
The path to push through for Maple Grove, Steman believes, starts in the preseason.
“Everybody has to get on the ice, we gotta become a team,” he said. “Get a little chemistry going.”
Although they have experienced heartache in trying to reach the state tournament in the past, the Crimson have plenty of strengths. They will also have plenty of chemistry considering they only graduated a handful of players from last year’s squad and return around a dozen seniors.
“We have a lot of guys coming back, we should be pretty mature,” Steman said. “Last year we were really strong defensively so hopefully we can do that and bring a little more firepower.”
Steman’s role will again be asked to be a main source of firepower, and he knows it.
“I like to be thought of as the energy guy,” he said. “I’m not afraid to hit or anything, but also, you gotta bury one if you have the opportunity. And I have to score goals.”
-- Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff
Team Southwest's Tanner Holmquist of Hopkins, left, celebrates his first period goal with teammate Ben Walker of Edina. Photo by Helen Nelson
Having been held scoreless since Sunday, Oct. 9, it had been a long and frustrating four games for Team Southwest forward Tanner Holmquist.
During a Tuesday, Oct. 18, matchup against Team Northeast, Holmquist had a focused gameplan.
“I wanted to pretty much just take the body going into the corners, get the puck, start working it with my teammates and see what we can stir up,” Holmquist said.
A four-point night for Holmquist, who scored a tap-in power play goal and added three assists.
Unfortunately for Team Southwest, Holmquist’s effort was spoiled with a 7-5 loss to Team Northeast.
“That team (Northeast) really likes to get down low, hit us in the corners and try to make us not be able to move the puck,” Holmquist said. “We just need to make sure we can move the puck to each other and get things moving.”
Despite the loss, the improved chemistry and offensive production is providing hope for the remainder of the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League season.
“Our line was working a lot better than it's been,” Holmquist said. “We're starting to pick it up. Me, (Ben) Walker and (Zach) Hnath have really been able to find the back of the net with some good plays. We're coming into the zone together a lot better than we've been doing so that's helped us out.”
Through 19 games Holmquist has amassed 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) during his first year in the Elite League.
“Everything is fast-paced, everyone is a really fast skater,” Holmquist said of the Elite League. “The tempo and physicality levels are up there so that pretty much brings the hockey level to something you can't find anywhere else.”
Savoring every minute, the Hopkins’ senior knows the importance of the preseason play and what it can bring to the varsity season.
“Having this experience before the season is really going to help,” Holmquist said. “I'm playing with the guys (on Team Southwest) who I'll be competing against -- maybe I'll get a little scouting report before the actual season. Hopefully this will help me out and I'll be able to take something home with me.”
Pairing last year’s performance for the Royals -- 43 points (14 goals, 29 assists) -- with this year’s Elite League experience, Holmquist may just provide Hopkins the boost it needs to turn some heads during the 2011-2012 season.
“I like the position my team (Hopkins) is in. Every night we're the underdog but it's always a chance for us to show people what we've got.”
-- Michael Murakami, MN Hockey Hub staff
1. Ben Walker, Team Southwest
Players from the losing team rarely earn top-star billing, but the high-flying Edina senior scored two highlight-reel goals and made an even better play on a cross-crease pass that set up a tap-in goal for Tanner Holmquist of Hopkins.
2. Jay Dickman, Team Northeast
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior from St. Paul Johnson continued his monster Elite League season with a two-goal performance. Dickman’s second goal came on a 30-foot laser beam of a wrist shot.
3. Tanner Holmquist, Team Southwest
A Hopkins senior, the 6-foot, 157-pound Holmquist was involved in all but one of Team Southwest’s goals as he finished with a goal and three assists.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
St. Thomas Academy senior Peter Krieger scored with 6 minutes, 57 seconds remaining and Dylan Steman of Maple Grove scored added an empty net goal in the closing seconds to lift Team Northeast past Team Southwest 7-5 in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
Edina senior Ben Walker scored twice for Team Southwest (8-8-3), and his goal on a high-speed solo rush and shot that clanged in off the crossbar early in the third period tied the game at 5.
St. Paul Johnson senior Jay Dickman scored twice for Team Northeast (10-6-3), and teammate Tanner Holmquist of Hopkins had four points on a goal and three assists.
Minnetonka junior Vinni Lettieri also scored twice for Team Southwest, which trailed 5-3 late in the second period before rallying.
Steman finished with a goal and two assists for Team Northeast, pushing his team-best point total to 25. Dickman’s two goals give him a team-high 11.
The win moved Team Northwest into sole possession of second place in the league standings with 24 points, four behind league leader Team Southeast.
Blaine’s Nick Malvin stopped 27 of 32 shots to earn the win for Team Northeast. Team Southwest’s Anders Franke of Elk River also made 27 saves and suffered the loss.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor