Blaine junior forward Dallas Gerads camps out in the slot next to sprawling Benilde-St. Margaret's goaltender Andrew Sprang. Photo by Brian Nelson
Dallas Gerads was the last one out of the Blaine locker room on Saturday night.
“Make sure it’s spotless in there,” was the order from Bengals coach Dave Aus.
It’s only fitting that Gerads was assigned one last dirty job. After all, he’d been handling the worst of them flawlessly all night.
Scooping up tape balls and other bits and pieces of garbage probably didn’t seem so bad after what Gerads had just been through.
A 5-foot-9, 180-pound junior, Gerads is the one who stands in front of the net during Blaine power plays. He takes all the hacks, slashes and cross checks without batting an eye.
“We put him out there because he can take a beating, and he is not going to turn around and punch a guy,” Aus said.
Gerads was screening Benilde-St. Margaret’s goaltender Andrew Sprang when Tyler Cline scored the winning goal on a power play with 3 minutes, 51 seconds remaining. The 6-5 victory at the St. Louis Park Rec Center cements the Bengals as a top-10 team, one that has a winning blend of speed, skill and grit.
Blaine's Dallas Gerads had two assists in Saturday's win over Benilde-St. Margaret's. Photo by Brian Nelson
Speaking of grit, Gerads was called out of the Blaine locker room by the Bengals’ coaches before the start of the third period. He was told he was being moved off his normal line with Cline and Joey Lau and instead would play the final period with Nic Simpson and Tyler Frischmon.
“Coach told me, ‘We’re only going to play you guys against Besse’s line,’ ” Gerads said. “He told me to stay with Besse. So I just stuck with him.”
Besse would be Grant Besse, the Red Knights' sniper who scored twice in the first period and looked every bit the Mr. Hockey award favorite he was touted to be before the season.
In the third, Besse took two penalties, including one for cross checking Gerads, and was mostly ineffective as his frustration continued to grow.
“I was jawing at him, gave him a couple of slashes here and there,” Gerads said. “It ended up working out perfect because I drew two penalties off of him because he got so frustrated. I was just being the grinder, following him all around the ice, getting him all riled up.”
Gerads scored one goal all of last season. Besse scored 52. This matchup had all the makings of a mismatch. And it was.
“Dallas is just the nicest kid in the world,” Aus said. “But when the puck drops, he can antagonize guys, and skate away from it. Dallas gets under guys' skin. Mentally he is just so tough.”
Besse, who has committed to play at Wisconsin, likely will finish his career in the state's all-time top 10 in goals (he has 122). Getting the star treatment is nothing new for the cashmere-smooth forward.
“The fact is, a kid like Besse, he is going to be hooked, he is going to be held,” Red Knights coach Ken Pauly said. “But he can’t take those penalties. Basically that’s in the third period, a critical moment in the game, four minutes they are on the power play and the best player on the ice is in the penalty box.
“He doesn’t do us any good there.”
Gerads said he was rattled at first when told of his third-period assignment. But by the time he hit the ice he was ready to throw all his vigor into shadowing Besse.
“I just went out there and said, ‘OK, I am going to get in his head, and I did, and he didn’t do anything after that,” Gerads said. “It kind of felt good, shutting down Besse. Everybody knows who he is.”
Blaine junior forward Brandon Notermann makes a nice move and scores an early goal on the way to a 6-5 Bengals victory over host Benilde-St. Margaret's. Photo by Brian Nelson
Tyler Cline scored twice, including the winner on a power play with 3 minutes, 51 seconds left in the third period, as No. 8-ranked Blaine twice rallied from two-goal deficits to beat No. 4 Benilde-St. Margaret’s 6-5 on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
Cline launched a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that beat Benilde-St. Margaret’s goaltender Andrew Sprang and gave the Bengals (4-0-1) their only lead. He also scored 3:26 into the second period to pull Blaine to within 4-3.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s star forward Grant Besse scored twice but took two third-period penalties, including the one gave Blaine the power play leading to Cline’s winning goal.
Brandon Notermann had a goal and two assists for the Bengals, and Joey Lau also scored in the third period for Blaine, which trailed 6-4 heading into the final period.
Dan Labosky had a goal and two assists for the Red Knights (3-2-0), who lost their second home game against a top-10 ranked team in as many tries this season. Benilde-St. Margaret’s lost to No. 2-ranked Hill-Murray last week.
Sprang made 22 saves for the Red Knighs while Blaine’s Bailey Ketola finished with 24 stops.
Benilde-St. Margaret's played without injured senior forward T.J. Moore, one of the program's all-time leading scorers.
1. Tyler Cline, Blaine
The small (5-foot-9, 172 pounds) but speedy Cline plays a style hybrid style that is equal parts grits, gumption, flash and finesse. The fireplug junior pounded a loose puck home to start the second then scored the winner on a laser shot on a power play in the third.
2. Dallas Gerads, Blaine
The junior forward was moved to a shutdown line in the third period and assigned to shadow Benilde-St. Margaret’s star Grant Besse. Gerads played his role to perfection, keeping Besse off the scoreboard and while getting under his skin with a mixture of physical play and trash talking– Besse took two penalties in the final period. Gerads also notched two assists.
3. Dan Labosky, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
The senior Colorado College recruit was a human highlight reel, scoring twice, setting up a Besse goal and setting up his Besse for several more quality chances – including a breakaway.