Hill-Murray's Mitch Slattery (28) scored twice in the Pioneers' 6-1 victory over White Bear Lake. Contributed photo
There nothing quite like the rivalry between Hill-Murray and White Bear Lake.
The two epitomize the sports cliche of teams not liking one another.
There is pushing and shoving after the whistle, a little extra is put into each body check and the pace of play is pushed to the max.
Add in two raucous student sections sending chants back and forth inside a venue that jammed to standing room only, and the play on the ice escalates to another level.
As emotional as the game can be with the atmosphere and the history between the two programs, players have to find a way to harness their emotions before they get the best of them.
Hill-Murray was able to dig deep and take control of its biggest rival and defeat the Bears 6-1 on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at the Vadnais Sports Center.
"It's a big game, one of the biggest of the year, so you just have to stay within the game and control your emotions," Hill-Murray forward Curt LaChappelle said. "We just have to play Hill-Murray hockey."
After the first period that was not the case.
Known for its disciplined play, Hill-Murray had a lapse in the first 17 minutes.
Sure the Pioneers scored two goals in the first, each by Mitch Slattery.
His first goal came on the power play, ripping a near-perfect wrist shot from the right face-off circle that went over the right shoulder of White Bear Lake goalie Max Green and into the upper corner.
Slattery followed with a shorthanded goal after he poke checked a Bears defenseman and, with one quick deke, slid the puck into the goal to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead.
What transpired after for Slattery was a quick exit.
With the puck well away from the play, he retaliated and threw a check into a Bears player, knocking him to the ice. A referee was standing rigth there.
Slattery was called for head contact, a five-minute major and was ejected for the rest of the game.
It was the last of four penalties Hill-Murray took in the first period.
White Bear Lake also was dealt with a major penalty just 1 minute, 34 seconds in when defenseman Thomas Delaney was called for checking from behind and also received a game disqualification.
"There were a lot of penalties in the first and we had to clean that up," Hill-Murray forward Zach LaValle said. "We kind of got caught up in stuff we shouldn't have."
As what good teams are supposed to do, the Pioneers bounced back. They scored four goals in the second period and took control.
"Things came a little bit unravelled," Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner said. "We were fortunate to get out of the first period 2-1. They went out in the second period and played hard and got the lead. They played the game what I thought is the right way."
LaChappelle scored twice in the second to give the Pioneers a commanding 4-1 lead.
Just 19 seconds after his second goal, LaValle broke loose on a breakaway and capitalized with a quick move to his forehand to beat Green for a 5-1 Hill-Murray lead.
The Pioneers completed its second period scoring surge when Zach Mills fired a wrist shot over Green's shoulder and into the upper corner.
"Jumping on them was big," LaChappelle said. "You never know what can happen in these games, so for us to come out and get some early in the second was important for us."
"I think after they got the third one it's like the volume button just went off," White Bear Lake coach Tim Sager said. "That's what we talk about every day, about battling. It's easy to battle when things are going your way. It's about when it's not going your way."
As the game progressed Hill-Murray got stronger and imposed more pressure on the Bears.
It did not take another penalty, stayed out of extracurricular activity that often coincides with a lopsided score and made a statement in a rivalry game in which it has owned, winning 16 of the past 17 meetings.
"We wanted to send a message," Pioneers defenseman Sam Becker said. "We wanted to do it against our rivals and show that we can bounce back."
Hill-Murray's Zack Mills celebrates a Pioneers goal in their 6-1 triumph over White Bear Lake. Contributed photo
Hill-Murray defeated White Bear Lake 6-1 on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at the Vadnais Sport Center.
The Pioneers have owned the rivalry of late, winning 15 of the past 16 meetings. In that span Hill-Murray has outscored the Bears 66-27.
Hill-Murray received two goals by Mitch Slattery and C.J. LaChappelle.
Zach LaValle scored a goal and recorded, and assist and Zach Mills concluded the scoring for Hill-Murray.
The only goal for the Bears came in the first period from Thomas Giller, pulling them to within one.
After a penalty filled first period Hill-Murray came out strong in the second and scored the rest of its goals in that period.
Hill-Murray goalie John Dugas faced 17 shots.
Max Green started the game in goal for the Bears, but was relieved by Michael St. Martin in the third.
The two faced a combined 39 shots.
With the win the Pioneers rebound from a loss to St. Thomas Academy and improve to 6-1-0 on the season. They will play Tartan on Thursday, Dec. 20 at Tartan.
White Bear Lake drops to 3-3-1 and will take to the road for a South Suburban Conference game at Roseville on Thursday, Dec. 20.
2. Mitch Slattery, Hill-Murray
Even though he was booted for contact to the head, Slattery was the driving force in getting Hill-Murray going. He scored the first two goals and did so on a power play and while the Pioneers were shorthanded.