In 2010, Mounds View surprisingly powered its way to the championship game of the Schwan Cup Bronze Division only to get run out of the Xcel Energy Center with a six goal loss to Champlin Park.
A year later, the Mustangs -- no longer a surprise -- again found themselves in the championship. After taking a 2-0 lead on Rogers, they coughed up three goals and fell in a heartbreaker.
In its third try in as many years, Mounds View showed up to Ridder Arena on Friday, Dec. 28, with a dangerous and seasoned team on a mission. The predicted underdog was their opponent this time, and the Mustangs proved it with a 6-1 win over Orono.
“Very nice to pull this one out this year,” Mounds View assistant coach Ed Aguirre said after the game. “A lot of sophomores that were here two years ago – we’re a senior laden team so it was very nice to see these seniors go out winning it.”
Mounds View didn’t just take home the trophy. They did it with emphasis. They weren’t flashy and didn’t have blinding speed but a relentless offensive attack had the Mustangs pouncing on rebounds and launching a barrage of shots at Orono goaltender Ryan Breon.
Mounds View's Jacob Tretsven. Photo by Loren Nelson
Their defense looked strong too, holding down the fort as seniors AJ Rupert and Jacob Tretsven went to work scoring the goals.
“Our line was really clicking like we always do,” Tretsven said. “We were just finding the back of the net.”
The win is a sign to the Mustangs. For years they’ve heard that they need a season more before they put all the pieces together. They’re close but not quite there. After going 14-11-1 last year, the Mustangs have racked up a 7-1-2 record already and haven’t lost since Nov. 24, against Duluth Marshall.
Aguirre is convinced that the time for winning is now. Mounds View has 14 seniors on its roster and four juniors.
“Last couple years they were pretty close games, real solid games, but for some reason we just couldn’t finish them but I guess that experience is coming through for this year and that’s what we’re looking for,” he said. “It’s part of the process for us is building for this year with this group.
“We’re playing very well but as any team right now we’re kind of finding our stride so I think that while this is big we still have bigger plans ahead for this team this year.”
Orono's Gavin Payne takes a defenders' stick with him while on a breakaway against Mounds View goaltender Brandon Smith. Photo by Loren Nelson
Even as Orono was being pounded 6-1 on Friday by Mounds View, all eyes were drawn on number 29 in the Spartan’s white and blue, whizzing around uncontained.
Just a sophomore, forward Gavin Payne held attention without even scoring a goal. He had two breakaways and numerous shots on goal. Creating time and space for himself, he was denied on wrap-arounds, clean shot attempts and even stung a pipe.
“He’s one of the most exciting players in the state,” Orono coach Aaron Johnson said after the game. “Today he showcased a lot of that and just didn’t bury like he’s capable of.”
This has been the story all year for Payne. With a disappointing four goals but a healthy 12 assists, it’s clear he just hasn’t found the net yet. As a freshman he put up 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists) in a stunning season.
“He’s a guy that scored 25 goals last year as a freshman so I mean he knows how to score it’s just they’re not coming for him right now as easy as he’d like but he’ll work through it,” Johnson said. “He’s a great hockey player, he’s having a great year for us.”
If it’s not inexperience keeping him out of the net, Payne has been trying to pinpoint adjustments that can get things going and recapture some of the magic from his freshman season.
“I dunno, shoot the puck more,” Payne said, offering solutions. “I guess I’m trying the same move over and over and I guess it’s not really working so I gotta shoot the puck.
“It was pretty frustrating I mean I had my chances I just couldn’t bury,” he said, adding on about Friday’s game. “It’s kinda been like that all season so hopefully it turns around soon.”
When he does start scoring, expect his name to shoot up the state leaderboards in scoring and scouts to start popping up at Orono games to catch his electrifying play.
“His skating is probably the first thing everyone notices,” Johnson said. “He can fly by people, he’s extremely skilled, he’ a really a smart hockey player. I’d say his skating separates him from some other people.
“He was the best player on the ice I think it was pretty noticeable to anyone who was watching the game.”
Senior forward Jacob Tretsven scored twice and Mounds View tallied three goals in the first period to put away Orono 6-1 and take the Schwan Cup Bronze Division Championship on Friday, Dec. 28, at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
Tretsven’s goals were both rebounds and senior AJ Rupert sniped goaltender Ryan Breon as the Mustangs built an early 3-1 lead.
The second period was an even affair and Orono looked like it might break through. The Mustangs played solid defense however and goaltender
Brandon Smith stopped 22 shots to hold the Spartans in check.
In the third, Mounds View opened the door and busted through it, powering three more goals past Breon.
Tretsven lead the Mustangs with three points and Andrew Bjorklund, Matt Hunt and AJ Rupert all notched two points. Both of Rupert’s points were goals.
Breon stopped 31 of 37 shots for the Spartans who were led in scoring by sophomore Joey Luedtke who scored the lone goal and sophomore Gavin Payne who had a nice game offensively.
1. Jacob Tretsven, Mounds View
Scoring two of the Mustangs’ three goals in the first period, Tretsven gave Mounds View all the offense it would need on Friday. The senior leader has had a nice season, picking up three points (two goals, one assist) to add to his total of 14 (seven goals, seven assists).
2. Brandon Smith, Mounds View
The sophomore goaltender was solid for the Mustangs, letting in just one goal. He came up big on multiple breakaways and locked down on 22 shots. His only slip up came when Orono was able to get three wrap around attempts in a row and Joey Luedtke snuck one under his pad.