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Friends and foes

10/02/2012, 9:20am CDT
By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Team Northwest's Mason Bergh gets better of Eden Prairie buddies on Team SE


Team Northwest's Mason Bergh of Eden Prairie scored the winning goal in the third period against Team Southeast. Photo by Katherine Matthews


Mason Bergh

Mason Bergh ripped a shot past goaltender Jake Kielly, threw a shoulder into defenseman Hunter Warner and whacked his stick into the padded hands of forward Harry Pajor.
 
Not a bad shift.
 
An eventful night included all sorts of run-ins with familiar faces for Bergh, an Eden Prairie senior forward who scored the winning goal for Team Northwest in the third period in its 4-1 Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League triumph over Team Southeast on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at New Hope Ice Arena.
 
Kielly, Warner and Pajor all play for Eden Prairie, too. There are six Eden Prairie players in all on Team Southeast. Bergh, meanwhile, is the only Eagles player on Team Northwest. 
 
“There are some friendly rivalries out here,” Bergh said. “It’s funny, I like to play with (Eden Prairie players) a lot, but it’s probably good for me to come out and play with other kids.
 
“I’m having a good time on this team.”
 
Bergh and Team Southeast’s Andrew Knudsen grew up in the same neighborhood, just a couple of Cedar Ridge Elementary kids with a passion for hockey. They have been playing on the same forward line since as long as they can remember. 
 
“I think the only time we didn’t play together is right now and mites,” Bergh said. 
 
Two years ago Bergh and Knudsen were wide-eyed sophomores playing on Eden Prairie’s third line when the Eagles won the state Class 2A championship.
 
“So we kind of got a little taste of the Kyle Rau show,” Bergh said about the 2011 Mr. Hockey winner who led the Eagles to the state title.
 
This season Eden Prairie will undoubtedly be ranked among the state’s top handful of teams. Bergh, Knudsen and Steven Spinner, who also plays for Team Southeast, form one of the most talented forward lines in the state.
 
When they are healthy.
 
Last year all three were hurt for much of the final weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs, when the Eagles were upended by Robbinsdale Armstrong in one of the state’s biggest postseason upsets in recent history.
 
“We definitely have to stay healthy this year, which is a big part of it,” said Knudsen, the lone member of Eden Prairie’s top line who played against Armstrong. 
 
Bergh didn’t appear too worried about protecting his body against Team Southeast. He stuck his nose in the corners, stationed himself in front of the net and routinely battled for the puck along the boards. He often paid a heavy price for hanging out in the “gritty” areas and in another memorable shift was knocked to the ice three times as he alternately worked the corners and the crease.
 
There’s some playmaker in Bergh’s game as well. Twice in the opening two periods he passed on prime scoring chances, opting instead to send the puck through the crease toward open teammates for what would have been tap-in goals. Neither pass connected.
 
“The thing is, he knows when to shoot and when to pass,” Knudsen said. “If he’s got an open shot, then he takes it. It’s always nice that he’s unselfish, too.”
 
Minnetonka’s Jack Ramsey (seven goals) and Thomas Lindstrom (six) have benefitted from Bergh’s playmaking skills this fall.
 
Bergh and Knudsen expect to be reunited with Spinner when the high school season starts. No matter what happens during their Elite League battles, a lifetime of friendship will remain intact. The pair were chatting it up near center ice after Tuesday’s game, comparing the points they registered and reenacting the hits they delivered.
 
”Looking at our body types, we’re not the biggest hitters out there,” Bergh said.

Team Northwest's Mason Bergh (15) cruises through the slot area looking for a scoring chance against Team Southeast and goaltender Jake Kielly. Photo by Katherine Matthews

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap

Mason Bergh of Eden Prairie scored the winning goal with 12 minutes, 39 seconds left in the third period as Team Northwest scored four unanswered goals to rally past Team Southeast 4-1 on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League matchup at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.  

Bergh, playing against six of his Eden Prairie teammates on Team Southeast, ripped a shot from the high slot past sophomore goaltender Jake Kielly – also from Eden Prairie -- for the winner.

Team Northwest, which took over sole possession of first place in the league standings with the victory, scored twice more in the final stages of the third period to cement the win.

Team Southeast’s Willie Brown, a junior forward from Hill-Murray, scored the only goal through the first two periods. He whipped a shot off the left goalpost and past Team Northwest’s Chase Perry, an Andover junior, with 13:30 left in the period. Andrew Knudsen of Eden Prairie set up the goal with a long feed through heavy traffic in the slot.

Andrew Zerban of Elk River and T.J. Roo of Totino-Grace scored for Team Northwest in the closing minutes.  

Perry, the league’s statistical leader in save percentage and goals-against average entering the game, finished with 31 saves in yet another sterling performance.  

Kielly, who played at the Bantam A level last season, had 37 saves.

Three Stars

1. Mason Bergh, Team Northwest
The senior forward from Eden Prairie passed on two prime scoring chances early in the game as he attempted to set up teammates for tap-in goals. When Knudsen finally decided it was time to shoot, he unloaded a cannon that proved to be the game winner. He also threw his body around with abandon and was a demon the forecheck. 

What’s left to say about the junior from Andover? This time he had 31 saves, 17 of which came in the second period when Team Southeast desperately tried to extended it’s one-goal lead – to no avail. 
 
Brown, a junior from Hill-Murray, scored the lone Team Southeast goal by banking the puck in off the left goalpost. As has been stated here before, beating the seemingly inpenetrable Perry has become a star-worthy accomplishment.

Photo Gallery

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