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The kid is clutch

03/08/2012, 11:45pm CST
By Star Tribune and MN Hockey Hub staff

Benilde-St. Margaret's Christian Horn scores in closing seconds to beat Edina


Benilde-St. Margaret's senior Christian Horn scores with 23.9 seconds left to lift the Red Knights to a 3-2 victory over Edina. Photo by Adam Crane

Christian Horn saw the top seeds going down, one by one.
 
First No. 2 Maple Grove, then No. 3 Eagan and then No. 1 Duluth East. 
 
As a player with a deep appreciation for dramatic endings, Horn got to thinking about the unprecedented state Class 2A tournament trend.
 
“It was weird,” said Horn, a Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior. “It was definitely an eye opener. It was one of those things where maybe the teams that were unseeded had more passion. 
 
“Seeing those top teams go down, definitely coming into the game you don’t want to be that one unseeded team that loses. We felt, let’s make this interesting and win this one, too.”

Christian Horn scored a goal and added an assist for Benilde-St. Margaret's in its state Class 2A victory over Edina. Photo by Adam Crane P

So if any player was going to score with 23.9 second remaining to lift the Red Knights to a 3-2 victory over No. 4 seed Edina on Thursday, March 8, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, it had to be the kid the call "Kitch."
 
“Kind of the untold story in all of this, with all the talk about (Red Knights leading scorer) Grant Besse and T.J. Moore and all that, is Christian Horn,” Red Knights coach Ken Pauly said. “He had the two big goals against (Robbinsdale) Armstrong in the (Section 6AA) semifinals, his play was huge at Mariuccci (in the section final against Minnetonka).
 
“He was big again tonight. I thought he was the best player on the ice tonight.”
 
Horn’s big-game heroics go back years. He’s helped the Red Knights win back-to-back lacrosse titles, scored a championship winning goal in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League’s fall National Invitational Tournament and got the last-second winner in a wild playoff comeback over Hopkins two years ago.
 
“I’d say he is pretty used to it,” Red Knights junior Grant Besse said.
 
Horn said his teammates had to fill him in on the particulars of his goal, specifically what happened to the Edina defense that allowed him to cruise in alone on a Hornets goaltender Willie Benjamin.
 
“Someone told me both of their guys fell and we were on a 2-on-0," Horn said. "I didn’t even know it. I just saw an opening and went for it.”
 
Just another night at the office, right?
 
“Probably one the greatest moments of my entire life,” Horn said. “Just hearing the entire place full of 18,000 people go insane, you know everyone is rooting for you, everyone is standing up and wants to see Edina lose. It was easily one of the best moments of my life.”
 
As for that nickname, they call him Kitch for no other reason that, as little kids, Christian sometimes came out as Kitchen.
 
“It just kind of stuck, and my family starting calling me Kitch,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior Christian Horn said. “Now my mom sometimes calls me Kitch. Everyone, really, who knows me.”
 
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Emotions of Victory


Benilde-St. Margaret's coach Ken Pauly during a game against Robbinsdale Armstrong. Photo by Helen Nelson

Usually a coach is the calming influence on the bench.

The one that keeps order during chaos and emotions in check during wild momentum swings.

But this is the state Class 2A tournament, and Benilde-St. Margaret's was not playing just an ordinary opponent in the quarterfinals.

This was against Edina, a regular contender in the state tournament.

After Benilde-St. Margaret's forward Christian Horn scored with 23.9 seconds left to give the Red Knights a 3-2, the emotions from coach Ken Pauly could not be kept in any longer as the clock began to wind down.

When the buzzer sounded, an ecstatic Pauly pumped his fists, hugged his assistant coaches and went right to the ice to applaud his team.

"Emotion of a man who is relieved," Pauly said.

Pauly's passion is noticeable by his players, yet they do not let it effect them too much.

"We kind of play it off like it's whatever," Red Knights forward Grant Besse said. "But you kind of feel it from him.

"He does a good job in not letting it impact you in a negative way. He has done this before, won championships before, so he knows what he is doing."

Add to the fact that Benilde-St. Margaret's was playing the late game, in front of an announced attendance of 18,001 in one of the more anticipated quarterfinal games at the Xcel Energy Center, emotions run that much higher.

"i think having the night game at 8 o'clock and against Edina had something to do with Pauly being so emotional," Besse said. "There are a lot of people watching us, and we haven't played Edina all year, so this was a big game and he was really excited for this one."

With all of the seeded teams in the Class 2A tournament heading to Mariucci Arena for the consolation bracket, Pauly and the Red Knights can breathe a little easier knowing they still have a shot at another state title.

"Any emotion is complete relief, and I would say everyone really wants to get to this stage and there is something very crushing about losing the first game," Pauly said. "Go to Mariucci and you're forgotten, and it's the catacombs over there, and this assures us we're still in the tournament, right?"

-- Justin Magill, MN Hockey Hub Staff


Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore Jack Jablonski, who was seriously injured in a junior varsity game this season, celebrates the Red Knights' victory over Edina. Photo by Adam Crane

Youthful Hornets better than expected

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year Edina.

The Hornets lost 11 players to graduation from last year’s state tournament team. Only two seniors are on their roster.
 
Yet the Hornets once again emerged from Section 2AA victorious -- earning their sixth straight state tournament appearance. The glory would be short-lived as unseeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s upset No. 3-seed Edina 3-2 in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
 
“I think the kids played hard,” Edina coach Curt Giles said. “They played the way we asked them to play. I think they ran into a good hockey team and a good goaltender. 
 
“They are young, but I think they played very well.”
 
Indeed, Edina’s youth is in abundance with two impact freshmen -- forward Dylan Malmquist and defenseman Jack Walker -- as well as six sophomores and 10 juniors.
 
Despite the underclassmen-heavy team, Giles said it didn’t play a factor when thinking about what kind of start the Hornets would have.

Edina's Andy Jordahl, middle, and Parker Reno, right, knock Alec Anderson of Benilde-St. Margaret's to the ice. Photo by Adam Crane

“You always wonder; whether you got a young team or not,” Giles said. “This year we do have a young team but we got great leadership -- guys like Nick (Leer) and Louie (Nanne) and Connor Beaupre and some of the upperclassmen have been great leaders for us all year. We really didn't think much about bringing this team in here and thinking they were going to stand around in awe. We had some good competition this year, the kids have played very, very well and we were pretty confident coming in here that they would play well. 
 
“I thought they did.”
 
In what was one of the most highly touted games of the tournament, the Hornets clearly had more than its age to worry about. Playing in the last game of the quarterfinal round can make things difficult.
 
“You try to get them to concentrate on the game they have at hand,” Giles said. “If you start to look at what's happening, you try to look around you sometimes, you kind of get lost in the tournament over here. You really have to work hard to concentrate on what you're supposed to be doing and the things you have at hand.”
 
Of course, when drawing the matchup against Benilde-St. Margaret’s it was nearly impossible to overlook the way the Red Knights have rallied around their injured teammate, Jack Jablonski. But Edina is not using that as an excuse.
 
“I've got a lot of respect for their program over there,” Giles said. “Our biggest challenge was that we were playing against the Benilde hockey team. We really were. Our biggest focus for us today was to focus on the game at hand -- not get caught up in the a lot of the stuff that was going around. Not only with the 'Jabs' and stuff like that but also the tournament itself. All of a sudden there's a lot of hubbub going on. All of a sudden all the seeded teams are getting beat and they're losing so there's a lot of media about that.”
 
Now the challenge becomes even more difficult as the Hornets find themselves in a bracket that has all four seeded teams competing for the consolation championship.
 
“What's really interesting is after a disappointment like this tonight, is that it's really going to be a challenge for us to make sure the kids are up and ready to play and ready to go because it happens at noon,” Giles said referring to Edina’s first round game in the consolation bracket against Duluth East on Friday, March 9.
 
“It doesn't happen tomorrow night sometime it happens at noon and it's going to be a big game.”
 
-- Michael Murakami, MN Hockey Hub staff

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap

The season of hope for Benilde-St. Margaret’s will last another day.

The Red Knights ousted No. 4 seed Edina in the final and most anticipated Class 2A quarterfinal game on Thursday. Senior forward Christian Horn scored with 23.9 seconds remaining to give B-SM a 3-2 victory.

“I saw their defense take a step toward the middle and I knew I had them,” said Horn, who used his speed to create a chance deep in the Hornets’ zone. “Someone told me both of their guys fell and we were on a 2-on-0. I didn’t even know it. I just saw an opening and went for it.”

From inside his family’s suite, Red Knights sophomore Jack Jablonski flashed a megawatt smile. Jablonski, who attended all three Red Knights section playoffs games, sat in his motorized wheelchair above the Benilde-St. Margaret’s student section. They serenaded him with a chant of, “We love Jabby,” early in the game. Midway through the third period they clapped and chanted his name.

Jablonski suffered severe a spinal cord injury in a Dec. 30 junior varsity game. He was checked from behind into the boards and doctors have said he will not regain the use of his legs. His story garnered national attention and led to mid-season changes to the penalty structure of the high school game.

“Him being here really does mean something to us,” Horn said.

The teams traded goals twice in the game. Grant Besse scored his 45th goal of the season on the power play at 3:11 of the first period. Edina sophomore Connor Hurley answered with a power-play goal at 13:41 of the second period.

Dan Labosky gave B-SM a short-lived lead 17 seconds into the third period, streaking in alone and flipping a backhand into the net. But Edina’s Andy Jordahl put away a rebound at the 36-second mark to knot the game 2-2.

-- David La Vaque, Star Tribune staff writer

1. Christian Horn, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
He scored the game-winning goal with 23.9 seconds remaining in the third period, what else is there to say? The senior forward has been on a tear in the playoffs, scoring six points in the section playoffs and tallying a goal and an assist in Thursday’s game. Horn has 66 points on the season (26 goals, 40 assists).

2.
Justin Quale, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
Quale was rock-solid in goal for the Red Knights, stopping 33 shots on the night. The junior goaltender was huge in the third period, making a couple of diving stops in the clutch. Quale has saved nearly 92 percent of the shots he's faced and only given up 1.72 goals per game this year.

3.
Connor Hurley, Edina
Hurley immediately answered Dan Labosky’s goal in the third period. Labosky scored 17 seconds in to take the lead for the Red Knights, and Hurley came back within a minute to tie the game again. The sophomore forward had a goal and an assist to add to his wonderful campaign as just a tenth grader. He has 57 points on the season (25 goals, 32 assists).

-- Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff 

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