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Wildcats strike

By Tim Kolehmainen, Breakdown Sports USA, 12/07/12, 12:30AM CST

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Chisago Lakes rallies from late two-goal deficit to beat Minnehaha Academy


Taylor O'Connor (22) of Chisago Lakes upends Minnehaha Academy's Charlie Welter (7) in Friday night's come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory for the Wildcats. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen.


Chisago Lakes' Billy Knaak (17) tries to fight through the checks of Ryan Leo (15) and Luke Erickson (19).

Chisago Lakes coach Paul Gibson admitted he had no words for his team during the second intermission of Friday night’s game at Minnehaha Academy. He knew nothing he could say could knock the zero off his team’s side of the scoreboard.

When Gibson got to the locker room, he sensed the frustration of his team, which was losing by a goal at that point. The Wildcats were controlling long stretches of the game, but were unable to solve Minnehaha goaltender Alex Katz. Despite raining 25 shots on Katz through two periods, nothing got past the senior ‘tender.

Rather than light into his team, Gibson took a more measured approach.

Calm.

Collected.

Gibson was a man of few words -- just keep up the pressure. It was only actions that would crack the brick wall of Katz -- who made every first stop -- and the Redhawks’ defense, which cleared away every rebound from danger.

Yet he may have been worried when the Redhawks went up 2-0 with just 4 minutes, 33 second left. At that point, Chisago Lakes had poured another 20-plus shots in that period alone -- yet was still scoreless.

“We were worried,” admitted senior captain Jake Speight.

It took nearly 48 minutes, but when the flood finally broke through, oh what a torrent it was. Just minutes later, Speight and his teammates were celebrating a 3-2 overtime victory over the shocked Redhawks. Chisago Lakes (4-2-0) scored twice in the final four minutes to tie it up, then Speight sent the Wildcats home a winner midway through overtime.

“We just went back to playing our game – Wildcat hockey,” said Jake Dubose, who as the backup to goaltender Bryce Thompson Friday night had a front row view of the comeback.

On the overtime winner, Speight collected the puck along the goal line extended with two Redhawks’ defensemen in hot pursuit. He quickly spun and fired a low wrister along the ice that surprised Katz, who was partially screened by the Wildcats’ Ryan Chambers.

The puck clanged off the far post, hit the back of Katz’s skate and just trickled across the goal line. Minnehaha defenseman Jacob Eggers tried to slip it back under Katz’s leg. He briefly argued that the puck hadn’t crossed the line, but got nowhere with the linesman.

Game over.

Rally complete.

“I just tried to get the shot on net,” added Speight. “And it went in.”

Minnehaha Academy isn’t the first team to shake its head in disbelief of a Chisago Lakes rally. Shakopee held a 3-0 lead in the second period of its Nov. 24 game, but the Wildcats poured in four straight goals for the victory.

Minnehaha Academy (1-2-1) was outshot 55-24 but most of the shots were harmless and from outside scoring territory -- until the fateful last few minutes.

“We’re willing to give shots up from the outside,” said Minnehaha Academy coach Patrick Griswold. “The shots might be 55-30, but if they don’t have any quality shots (we’re fine). Those last two minutes, we started giving up quality shots.

“Good teams take advantage of that.”


Minnehaha Academy goaltender Alex Katz made 52 saves on 55 shots.

Statistics, Summary

Game recap

Jake Speight scored on a bad-angle shot 3 minutes, 10 seconds into overtime to complete a stirring comeback for Chisago Lakes in a 3-2 victory at Minnehaha Academy Friday night, Dec. 7. The Wildcats trailed by two goals in the final four minutes of regular before rallying to send the game to overtime.

Chisago Lakes peppered Redhawks goaltender Alex Katz throughout the third period, outshooting them 27-8 in the frame. But Katz held the increasingly frustrated Wildcats off the board until late.

Slippery freshman Blake Lizotte started the rally with just 3 minutes, 20 seconds left in regulation to cut Minnehaha's lead to 2-1. Just over a minute later, senior Ben Knaak tied the score, giving Chisago Lakes new life.

The Wildcats outshot Minnehaha Academy 55-24 for the game. Katz finished with 52 saves while Bryce Thompson made 22 saves for Chisago Lakes.

Ryan Evenson and Luke Erickson scored for Minnehaha Academy.

1. Blake Lizotte, Chisago Lakes
Just a freshman, the diminutive Lizotte plays much bigger than his size and he was a key reason the Wildcats rallied from a late two-goal deficit. His goal with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left sparked the comeback, but his shiftiness and slipperiness were on display all night long.

2. Jake Speight, Chisago Lakes
Speight sent the Wildcats to the bus with the game-winning goal in overtime, completing their late rally. During a scramble to the lower right circle midway through overtime, Speight spun and whipped a bad angle shot that squeezed through traffic, rang off the far post and deflected off goaltender Alex Katz and just over the line.

3. Alex Katz, Minnehaha Academy
Katz may have ended up on the short end of the scoreboard, but he was outstanding all night with 52 saves on 55 shots. He was especially peppered in the third period and overtime, when Chisago Lakes fired 30 shots in just over 20 minutes.
 

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Micah Miller leaps to the fans after scoring the game winner.

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Moorhead's Jack Stetz (21) throws his arms up as he and his teammates celebrated the win. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com