Wayzata's Aaron Dingmann makes another save on his way to shutting out a Duluth East team looking to give coach Mike Randolph his 500th career victory. Photo by Brian Nelson
Soft may not be the best attribute to tie to a hockey player, but for Wayzata goalie Aaron Dingmann, it is a compliment at its finest.
"We talked about him (Dingmann) before the season and we described him as a soft goalie, but in a good way," Trojans coach Pat O'Leary said. "We mean that he grabs everything that comes to him and he doesn't give up much in terms of rebounds or second chances."
In No. 9 Wayzata's 1-0 win against No. 4 Duluth East on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Plymouth Ice Center, Dingmann stopped all 26 shots he faced, which included 12 in the second period.
Not only was Duluth East dominant in puck possession and offensive zone presence in the second, it held the Trojans to only one shot on goal, which put even more pressure on Dingmann to stand tall.
"I like it," Dingmann said. "It's fun to face a lot of shots like that."
With as much joy as Dingmann had in shutting down the Greyhounds, it was not so in attempting to solve the senior goaltender.
"He is a hell of a goalie," Duluth East coach Mike Randolph said. "We did just about everything we could against him. He played a great game and was the difference."
Through five games in which he has played in net. Dingman has allowed a stingy 1.17 goals-against, .945 save-percentage and now shoulders a 4-1-0 record.
He also posted his first shutout of his career in the win as well.
"We know coming in he would be key for us," O'Leary said. "This is a big win for him because he is going to see a lot of games like this in the Lake Conference. Teams that are wired well offensively, we face on a regular basis and I think this is just another big game for him to have."
Facing 26 shots might not sound like much, but the quality chances Duluth East was plentiful.
What it did not get was many cracks at rebounds as Dingmann was able to hold onto just about everything that came his way.
"Everything just stuck to him," Wayzata forward Max Zimmer, who scored the only goal of the game, said. "He saw a lot of shots in the second period especially, so for him to not give up anything extra was huge for us."
Duluth East not only threw every shot from just about every conceivable angle at Dingmann, as the game progressed and being down a goal, it began going to the net aggressively.
Still, Dingmann was strong and held his ground.
Tipped shots and traffic in front did not deter him from shutting down one of the state's most notorious prolific scoring teams.
His positioning was spot on, his rebound control stellar and most importantly, his team now 5-1-0.
"Our 'tending (goaltending) was big today," Zimmer said. "That was the difference."
Not many teams can boost that it scored only one goal against Duluth East, accounted for only 12 shots on goal and come out victorious.
Wayzata can now be one of the few to do so and Dingmann was the reason why.
“He did everything he had to do for us today,” O’Leary said. “If he couldn’t hang on to it (the puck), he was kicking it to the side or over the glass. Again, just a really good game from him today.”
Duluth East's Phil Beaulieu (25) unleashed one of the many quality scoring chances had against Wayzata on Dec. 8 at the Plymouth Ice Center. Photo by Brian Nelson
Duluth East's Alex Toscano (23) and Wayzata's Chandler Lindstrand (25) collide in the closing seconds of the Trojans 1-0 win on Dec. 8 at the Plymouth Ice Center. Photo by Brian Nelson
There has been speculation that Wayzata would be a strong team and contend in the Lake Conference.
After its 1-0 win against Duluth East, that could very well be fact now.
"That is a good hockey team over there," Randolph said. "They play in a tough conference and face a lot of good hockey teams and they are right up there with the rest of them."
There are currently four teams from the Lake Conference that infiltrate the Class AA rankings, with No. 2 Edina, No. 3 Minnetonka, No. 7 Eden Prairie and No. 9 Wayzata.
For the past few seasons, much of the talk has gone towards the first three and rightfully so with Edina's state title in 2010 against Minnetonka and Eden Prairie's in 2011.
At the start of the season, if the Trojans were not part of that conversation, they might very well be now.
"We don't go into Lake Conference games and think we are going to lose anymore," Dingmann said. "There is a great defensive team that we have here and we believe we can play with those guys."
"There is obviously a lot of talent in the Lake Conference," O'Leary said. "We know that well and this team is going to see a lot of what we saw today in those games.
"I think winning this one, even though we may have been outshot, gives them the confidence that they can play with them. They (Duluth East) had a lot of good chances tonight, but we had ours too, so hopefully as we progress and get better, we will get more and be able to capitalize."
Duluth East coach Mike Randolph shakes hands with Wayzata players following the Trojans 1-0 win on Dec. 8 at the Plymouth Ice Center. A Greyhounds victory would have given Randolph his 500th career win. Photo by Brian Nelson
In 25 seasons at Duluth East, Mike Randolph has accumulated 485 wins for the program.
To mention, that is just at Duluth East.
A win against the Trojans would have given him 500 for his career and staple his name with an illustrious group that have elipsed that mark.
"It was brought up to me at the start of the season and to be honest, I never really thought about it that much," Randolph said. "I have been so blessed with so many great people around me. Assistant coaches, players, you name it."
The Greyhounds did just about everything they could to give Randolph No. 500, but it wasn't meant to be against Wayzata.
"I just told our kids that we played a great game," Randolph said. "I am not disappointed at all in them. We ran into a great goalie today, maybe missed on a few chances, but I am sure that we will win some games that we are not supposed to and at times, you lose some games that you might not think you are supposed to lose. That is just the game."
Coming into the game, Trojans coach Pat O'Leary knew that Randolph's 500th win could come against his team.
When his team came out victorious, he was gracious for the body of work Randolph has displayed.
"I read a lot about it coming into the game, so I was aware of it," O'Leary said. "You have to respect what he has done. I think we share a lot of the same interests, so I do appreciate it very much.
"Mike cares a lot about the youth levels and understands when kids might jump up to Juniors during high school, just like we do here. He is always there for his team and is a model of success. I think you have to win more than 15 wins a year to do something like that, which they always do, so that is really good for him."
That win will more than likely come sooner than later for Randolph.
Memories of seasons past will more than likely follow, but most of all, it will be about the people that helped along the way.
"I am just thankful for those that were there along the way," Randolph said. "I won't forget them at all.
Aaron Dingmann made 26 saves for No. 9 Wayzata as it beat No. 4 Duluth East 1-0 on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Plymouth Ice Center.
Duluth East outshot the Trojans 26-12 and drop its first game of the season.
Max Zimmer scored just 1 minute, 4 seconds into the first period for Wayzata.
Greyhounds coach Mike Randolph would have had win No. 500 today, but that opportunity will have to wait until their next game on Dec. 13 against Cloquet.
Dylan Parker of Duluth East made 11 saves on the game and we take the loss.
Duluth East falls to 2-1-0 on the season.
Wayzata improves to 5-1-0 and will have two weeks off until its next game.
The Trojans will host Stillwater on Dec. 22.
He made all 26 saves for the Trojans and they needed all of them to take down No. 4 Duluth East. The Greyhounds are known for their offensive power, but Dingmann was able to shutdown one of the state's elite for his first career varsity shutout.
Just 64 seconds into the game, Zimmer scored what would be the only goal of the game and it was a beauty. Cutting across the middle of the slot, he fired a wrist shot against the grain and beat Dylan Parker.
Even though his team did not register a goal, Davidson was a driving force offensively for the Greyhounds. He was to penetrate the zone with furious rushes, find open teammates for quality scoring chances and even get off a few nice shots himself.