Moorhead's Aaron Herdt tries to shoot through Wayzata's Chase Heising in the Trojans 4-3 win on Friday. Dec. 29 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center. Photo by Brian Nelson
Max Zimmer scored two goals for Wayzata in its 4-3 win on Friday, Dec. 28 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center. Photo by Brian Nelson
Could there be something special brewing in Wayzata?
A team that graduated 12 seniors from a year ago the Trojans have stormed out of the gates in the 2012-13 season and with their 4-3 victory against Moorhead in the semifinals of the Sports Authority Holiday Classic at the St. Louis Park Rec Center, they are now 9-1-0.
They have climbed the Class AA rankings and are currently ranked No. 3. That will more than likely improve because their Lake Conference rivals, Edina, lost two games this past week.
Wayzata has found itself among the state's elite by throwing its youth players right into the fire of a difficult schedule while allowing the veterans to both mentor and contribute.
It has also played well in its own end allowing only 1.40 goals a game and it hasn't been against weak competition.
Four teams that Trojans have already played made it to the state tournament last season.
They beat Maple Grove in the season opener, lost to Edina, shutout Duluth East and just beat Moorhead.
"I am very impressed with how we have played in our first 10 games," Wayzata coach Pat O'Leary said. "We have had a pretty tough schedule to start the year, so to be where we are at right now I think we can be very happy about."
Some may have thought that this season would be a rebuilding year for the Trojans, but if there is any building going on it is their confidence with every game they play.
More so, the confidence of Wayzata's underclassmen have been growing and the statistics have proven it.
Sophomore Matthew Freytag leads the Trojans in both goals, nine, and points with 13.
Wayzata also has freshman Max Zimmer who has chipped in with five goals.
On his first varsity shift against Maple Grove he scored.
In Wayzata's 1-0 win against Duluth East he scored the only goal of the game and against Moorhead he scored twice, his second hitting the upper shelf on a picture-perfect shot that even impressed his coach.
"That was a goal-scorers goal," O'Leary said. "We had a good view of it. He got it, picked his spot and hit it."
Where the experience has come in is with the overall team defensive play.
Through 10 games the Trojans have only allowed three goals twice and has not allowed more than that.
Wayzata's Aaron Dingmann has a shot from Moorhead's John O'Connor go by him in the third period of the Trojans 4-3 win on Friday, Dec. 28 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center. It's one of the few shots that found the back of the Trojans net this season-Photo
Two of the six seniors play on the blue line and Aaron Dingmann, also a senior, starts in goal.
The combination of Dingmann's stellar play in net and the team defense in front of him has made the Trojans a tough team to crack.
"We work on our defense everyday," senior defenseman Kyle Olson said. "There is a lot of work done on staying in our lanes, giving our goalie a clean look and getting the puck out of the zone when we need to."
In another test against Moorhead, even though it allowed three goals, Wayzata only gave up 12 shots on goal.
"We controlled the game and played pretty good," Zimmer said. "It was another good team we played against and we didn't let them get going because our defense played great."
"Once we got going in the second, we felt pretty good and were able to really lock down defensively," Olson said. "It is a big win for us and hopefully we can keep it going."
Minus a few minor breakdowns that the Spuds capitalized on, Wayzata was stout defensively.
When Moorhead pressured the Trojans chipped the puck out before any harm could be done.
"They just make a lot of smart hockey decisions," Moorhead coach Peter Cullen said. "They do a nice job of that and it limits what you can do and can keeps the momentum on their side.
The Trojans will need to have the momentum stay on track because Benilde-St. Margaret's waits in the championship of the Sports Authority Holiday Classic.
Not to mention, five days after Wayzata will have to make a trip back to St. Louis Park to play the Red Knights again for a scheduled non-conference meeting on Jan. 3.
It is cliche, but the Trojans are a team that will and need to take games just one at a time.
"We have to because we are still learning," O'Leary said. "We are playing really well right now and will need to keep it up."
Wayzata's Max Zimmer scored two goals to propel the Trojans to a 4-3 win against Moorhead in the first semifinal of the Sports Authority Holiday Classic on Friday, Dec. 28 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
Despite giving up three goals Wayzata only allowed 12 shots on goal.
The Spuds made the most of their opportunities, including the first period when Aaron Herdt opened the scoring on a wraparound to beat Wayzata goalie Aaron Dingmann.
Wayzata opened up in the second, scoring four unanswered goals.
Zimmer scored his first on the power play just 54 seconds in.
Chase Haller gave the Trojans their first lead and Zimmer followed just 17 seconds later to give them a 3-1 lead.
Less than five minutes later Wayzata's Matthew Freytag extended the lead to 4-1.
Moorhead closed the gap on Thomas Carey's goal after he received a perfect feed from Tony Uglem.
Wayzata controlled the pace of play in the third until the end when Moorhead pulled Jacob Dittmer with 2 minutes, 35 seconds left.
It paid off as John O'Connor scored on a wrist shot with only 1 minute, 30 seconds left.
That was all the Spuds could get as Wayzata clamped down defensively and survived a late scare when a shot got through traffic and Dingmann could only stare at the puck as it sat near the Trojans goal, but his defensemen were able to clear it away.
Through 10 games Wayzata now owns a 9-1-0 record and will play in the championship game of the Sports Authority Holiday Hockey Classic.
It will take on the winner of Benilde-St. Margaret's and Elk River on Saturday, Dec. 30 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
Moorhead drops to 7-4-1 and will play for third place against Benilde-St. Margaret's or Elk River on Saturday, Dec. 30 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
1. Max Zimmer, Wayzata
The freshman continues to show why he belongs in the varsity lineup with two more big goals for Wayzata. His second goal was a pure goal-scorers goal when he took a pass just inside the blue line and after a few strides, picked the upper corner.
2. John O'Connor, Moorhead
There wasn't a lot of sustained offense for Moorhead, but O'Connor did his part when the opportunity was there with a goal and an assist. He scored late in the third period, which pulled the Spuds within in a goal and made what appeared to be a comfortable lead for Wayzata into a white-knuckler.
3. Matthew Freytag, Wayzata
Another one of the Trojans underclassmen, Freytag, a sophmore scored and had other opportunities as well. In a season where Wayzata has had to rely heavily on its youth, Freytag has been one of those to count on and he did so again against the Spuds.