Elk River goalie Mac Berglove faced 31 shots in Benilde-St. Margaret's 5-3 win on Friday, Dec. 29 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center. Photo by Brian Nelson
Trying to match Benilde-St. Margaret's in a shootout may not be the best approach to take down a team with such extensive depth.
But if one is presented with opportunities to cash in, they better do it otherwise the Red Knights will find a way to make those missed chances sting that much more.
In Beniilde-St, Margaret's 5-3 victory against Elk River on Friday. Dec. 28 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center, the Elks had their share of occasions to score more on quality chances.
But close calls against the Red Knights is similar to a football team getting into the red zone only to find that it is kicking field goals instead. Often, the lack of not scoring touchdowns comes back to haunt a team, similar to what happened to Elk River.
Blake Hillman unleashed a slap shot from the point that was headed directly for the lower left corner, but Red Knights' goalie Andrew Sprang get his left pad out just in time.
Bendile-St. Margaret's turned that right to offense and T.J. Moore scored to give it the lead.
"They have guys over there with NHL shots," Elk River coach Gordie Roberts said. "You like to have about 14 or 15 chances to score and hopefully score four or five times. Against these guys you have to do that."
Elk River had another chance in the second period to pull within one, but Kyle Badger's shot on a two-on-one went wide and again the Red Knights made that a costly one for the Elks.
On a similar play on the other end Benilde-St. Margaret's forward Grant Besse cashed in on his first of two goals when he buried a one-timer in front to extend its lead to 3-1.
"I think that says a lot about who we are," senior captain Dan Labosky said. "We have the guys that can turn a game around like that and flip a 180 like that."
A team with as much scoring depth that the Red Knights has does not need anymore breaks to make their game any easier.
Benidle-St. Margaret's can turn defense into offense as fast any team in the state.
Scoring at will has almost become the norm, so not making it pay for allowing odd man rushes or not winning a face-off may sound miniscule, but they add up in the long haul.
"We have the scoring talent and depth to turn a game around like that if a team doesn't make us pay," Besse said. "We also show how resilient we can be in those situations as well when it looks like we are in trouble, but we get out of it and end get chances on our end."
Benilde St Margaret's Grant Besse had a great game against Elk River scoring two goals and playing some nice defense on this play. Photo by Brian Nelson
Grant Beese scored two goals and recorded one assist for Benilde-St. Margaret's in its 5-3 win against Elk River in the semifinals of the Sports Authority Holiday Classic on Friday, Dec. 29 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
Besse's linemates, T.J. Moore and Dan Labosky also got in the action.
Moore scored a goal and had three assists while Labosky chipped in with a goal and an assist.
Labosky opened the scoring in the first period on assists from Moore and Besse.
Elk River tied the score early in the second on Tim Sandford's goal, but Moore answered to give the Red Knights the lead back.
The second period ended with a flurry of three goals just 44 seconds apart.
Besse scored his first to give Benilde-St. Margaret's a brief two goal lead.
Isaac Schwab pulled the Elks within one on a wrist shot from the slot that got through traffic cleanly to beat Red Knights' goalie Andrew Sprang.
Spencer Naas came back for the Red Knights to score just nine seconds later on an unassisted goal from a sharp angle.
In the third, Besse went back to work with a power play goal just 1 minute, 33 seconds into the period.
Andrew Zerban pulled the Elks within two, but that is as close as they would get.
Benilde-St. Margaret's improves to 8-2-0 on the season and will play Wayzata in the championship game of the Sports Authority Holiday Classic on Saturday, Dec. 29 at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
Elk River falls to 6-5-0 and will play Moorhead for third place.
1. Grant Besse, Benilde-St. Margaret's
Besse scored twice and had an assist to lead the Red Knights offensive surge. He used his quick release to score on a one-timer right in front of the net and unloaded a quick wrist shot on the power play in the third to help Benilde-St. Margaret's pull away.
2. T.J. Moore, Benilde-St. Margaret's
Centering the top line which is full of seniors, Moore played the role of playmaker with three assists and adding in a goal as well. He set up his teammates with quality scoring chances all night.
3. Tim Sanford, Elk River
Having to go goal-for-goal with the Red Knights is now easy task, but Sanford did his best with a goal and an assist. He had other chances as well and was one of the constant offensive forces for the Elks.