Junior Jesse Norling celebrates a goal with teammate Michael Brodzinski during Blaine's victory over Anoka. Photo by Helen Nelson
“Our kids played well,” Anoka coach Todd Manthey said. “They played hard. They did everything except score that fourth goal. It’s not like we didn’t have opportunities.”
Blaine has grown accustomed to tense moments and tight situations at the Coliseum. The Bengals haven’t blown out a lot of playoff opponents over the years, and they most certainly haven’t been on the losing end of any sort of outcome.
“They are a tough team,” said Blaine junior Jesse Norling, who scored twice against the Tornadoes. “They are hard workers. That’s what Anoka is known for.”
Again, Norling might just as well have been describing the Bengals. With just two players who reached double-digit in goals during the regular season, it is only fitting that Blaine’s top scorer is a defenseman (University of Minnesota recruit Michael Brodzinski).
The Bengals seem to have a knack for scoring clutch goals rather than scoring goals in bulk. Norling had nine regular season goals, but flashed quick hands and a nose for the net when he scored the two big ones in a 1:27 span against Anoka in the second period.
“Jesse probably could have had about six goals,” said senior Dylan Lambert, one of Norling’s linemates. “He had a lot of chances. He’s a great player, and he found the seams.”
Lambert helped set up both Norling goals, but Blaine coach Dave Aus was just as impressed with the senior’s back checking and shot blocking.
“Dylan is just playing so hard for us right now,” Aus said. “Really, he’s been a real leader for us in the way that he plays. I mean he is all over the rink. And he’s just a real scrappy, grinding player who has done a great job for us.”