Minnetonka senior Erik Baskin, middle, battles for control of the puck with Wayzata defenseman Matt Halverson, left, as Trojans goaltender Alec Almquist tries to keep the crease clear. Photo by Helen Nelson
Losing to archrival Edina might be the best thing that could have happened to Minnetonka.
Beating Duluth East, undefeated and the state’s unanimous No. 1 team at the time, by six goals wasn’t such a bad thing, either.
Having experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in span of three days, the Skippers have made a pact to skate closer to the peaks while avoiding the valleys.
They are 1-for-1 in their quest after dismantling No. 8-ranked Wayzata 5-1 on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
“I thought the Edina game (a 3-2 loss on Jan. 19) kind of just set everything off, because when we lost to Edina it was like, ‘Wow, we actually have to try really hard every period,’ ” Skippers junior forward Justin Bader said. “And then against East (a 9-3 victory on Jan. 21) we came out flying, on fire. And this game the same thing.
“We were really prepared mentally.”
Minnetonka's Max Coatta looks for a rebound opportunity on Wayzata goaltender Alec Almquist. Photo by Helen Nelson
All three of Minnetonka’s forward lines treated the Wayzata defensive zone as if it was their personal playpen, and the constant cycling and mucking and grinding eventually wore the Trojans’ defense to a nub. The top-ranked Skippers scored three goals in the third period to break open a close game.
“We really wanted to build on that East game, play with that type of intensity and jump every night from here on out,” Minnetonka coach Brian Urick said. “I thought tonight was our best game of the year. You take a team like Wayzata and you give up 16 shots, all from the outside.
“I think we gave up a bad breakaway. Other than that everything was on the outside.”
Wayzata, coming off a 4-0 thumping of top-10 ranked Eden Prairie on Saturday, Jan. 21, scored first against the Skippers (17-2-0) and had a chance to go up 2-0 when senior Sam Majka streaked in on a first-period breakaway.
Minnetonka junior goaltender Paul Ciaccio made the save on Majka, and that was last of the great scoring chances for the Trojans (11-5-1).
“What happened was in the second period we went against our game plan,” Wayzata coach Pat O’Leary said. “We went against what we said we were coming in tonight to do -- keep our feet moving and get the puck in deep.
“We just stood around in the second period. It was still 2-1, but they took over the momentum of the game right then.”
By the end of the second period, Minnetonka’s pressure was so stifling that entire Skippers shifts were spent in the Wayzata defensive zone. At times all three Minnetonka forward lines moved the puck around as if they were on a power play, even though both teams were at even strength.
“We were obviously fired up for the Hockey Day game (against Duluth East) and then tonight we didn’t want to have another letdown against Wayzata, who is really similar team to Edina,” Minnetonka senior forward Sam Rothstein said. “They are both physical and play really good defense.
“We were kind of ready to go tonight, too.”
Bader, Rothstein and senior Max Coatta scored in a span of just more than 2 minutes in the third period as a 2-1 Skippers’ lead became a four-goal cushion.
“Our team kind of scores in bunches this year, which is a good thing I guess,” Rothstein said. “It helps out to kind of get our momentum going from line to line.”
From left, Minnetonka's Jimmy Schuldt, Joe Schuldt, Connor Thie, Max Coatta and Vinni Lettieri celebrate a goal during the Skippers' 5-1 victory over Wayzata. Photo by Helen Nelson
Justin Bader, Sam Rothstein and Max Coatta – representing all three Minnetonka forward lines – scored in a span of 2 minutes, 9 seconds in the third period as the No. 1-ranked Skippers rolled past Lake Conference and Section 6AA rival Wayzata 5-1 on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
1. Sam Rothstein, Minnetonka
The crafty senior scored twice on well-placed shots and had numerous other scoring chances. Rothstein’s goal in the third period put the Skippers ahead 4-1 and took much of the life out of the Trojans.