Wayzata goaltender Aaron Dingmann and Trojans defenseman Alec Hemenway track the flight of an incoming puck. Photo by Brian Nelson
Benilde-St. Margaret’s forward Grant Besse, a product of Wayzata youth hockey, walked between two lines of jubilant Trojans’ fans after Saturday’s game and exclaimed, “That stunk.”
Not much more needed to be said. Wayzata unloaded on Benilde-St. Margaret’s, building a six-goal lead in the second period en route to a 7-1 victory in the Holiday Hockey Classic championship game played at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center.
If Akash Batra’s goal 20 seconds into the game caught defending Class 2A state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s off guard, the No. 5 Red Knights (8-3-0) would be floored in the second period.
No. 3 Wayzata (10-1-0) erupted for five goals, the first four scored within a four-minute span. The Trojans spread the wealth. Chad Olson’s power-play tally made it 2-0 at 4:41. Jack Sorensen, Max Zimmer and Brian Machut added goals during the next 3 minutes and 32 seconds. Chase Haller later scored to make it 6-0.
“Did I think we were going to win 7-1 tonight? No,” Trojans coach Pat O’Leary said. “But at the same time, you could feel the energy going with us. Some of those goals came on really skilled plays.”
Wayzata has found success stifling the opposition so far this season. Saturday marked the Trojans’ ninth consecutive victory and they gave up two or more goals only three times during that span. Senior goaltender Aaron Dingmann stood tall, stopping 39 of 40 Red Knights’ shots.
Wayzata set an early tone Saturday by killing a Benilde-St. Margaret’s 5-minute major penalty in the first period. The Red Knights managed six shots – the same number Wayzata blocked.
“We did a good job on their power play in the first period and I think that was the difference in the game,” O’Leary said.
Said Red Knights coach Ken Pauly of the failed power play: “They planted their flag and said, ‘We’re playing our game tonight.’ We didn't bring our flag.”
The Red Knights won’t have long to wait for a shot at redemption The teams meet again Jan. 3.
“We ran in to a good team tonight and the truth is I think we were exposed a little bit,” Pauly said. “We better let this loss go down the drain but not the lesson.”
-- David La Vaque, Star Tribune staff writer
Grant Besse, right, scored the lone goal for Benilde-St. Margaret's in a 7-1 loss to Wayzata in the championship game of the Sports Authority Holiday Hockey Classic. Photo by Brian Nelson
Wayzata is not flashy. This is not a team brimming with flair.
The Trojans clog shooting lanes. They block shots. They clear rebounds. They backcheck with abandon.
The style may be snooze-inducing from a fan’s perspective, but entering Saturday night’s Sports Authority Holiday Hockey Classic title game against defending state Class 2A champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s it had resulted in nine wins in 10 games and a No. 3 state ranking.
Funny thing about boring. Sometimes it takes a night off.
Yes, that was Wayzata scoring with rat-a-tat frequency. Scoring on 2-on-1s, on backdoor passing plays, on one-timers. Four of the goals came in a span of 3 minutes, 32 seconds in the second period of the Trojans’ stunningly lopsided 7-1 triumph over the No. 5 Red Knights.
“Our guys can score, it has just taken some time,” Wayzata coach Pat O’Leary said. That’s our M O, we haven’t put a lot of pucks in the net. We’ve been good defensively.”
The puck gets past Benilde-St. Margaret's goaltender Paul Lundberg for a third-period goal for Wayzata. Photo by Brian Nelson
The No. 3-ranked Trojans (10-1-0) entered Saturday’s game with 29 goals in their first 10 games. By comparison, Benilde-St. Margaret’s duo of Grant Besse and Spencer Naas had combined for 35 goals.
The No. 5 Red Knights (8-3-0) figured to be the team to run up the score with tic-tac-toe passing and laser-guided shooting.
But, oh yes, that was the Trojans’ scoring five goals in the second period. Junior Chad Olson opened the second-period scoring 4:41 into the session by firing a low shot past Benilde-St. Margaret’s goaltender Andrew Sprang. The Trojans scored 75 seconds later when sophomore Matthew Freytag hit junior Jack Sorensen for a one-timer.
And the goals kept coming, each one prettier than the last. The beatdown was so lopsided it had a Harlem Globetrotters versus Washington Generals feel, almost as if the whole thing had been choreographed.
“It was great,” Freytag said about the second-period scoring burst. “The feeling is indescribable. They just keep going in, and there’s no way to stop it.”
Freytag had four assists while serving as the Trojans’ primary setup man. Wayzata had seven goal scorers, including freshman Max Zimmer who converted a nifty touch pass from Jalen Wahl on a perfectly executed 2-on-1.
“We like to play defense first, but we know we have the skill to put home goals,” Sorensen said.
Wayzata’s previous high for goals in a game this season was six in a Holiday Classic quarterfinal blowout of Bloomington Jefferson. Before that, the Trojans’ hadn’t scored more than four goals in a game. Mostly, their victories have been of the 2-1 and 3-2 variety.
Against the Red Knights, the goals came so fast, so frequently that O’Leary had trouble keeping track of them all.
“I can’t remember all the goals exactly, right off the top of my head, but some of them were pretty skilled plays,” he said. “Some nice goals. Good for our kids to show that.
“Was I a little surprised? Absolutely.”
Senior Chase Haller shouted, “We shocked the world!” as he headed to the locker room but, nah, the Trojans didn’t seem to stunned by the outcome.
“We know we are a top-five team in the state,” Sorensen said. “It’s nothing unusual. That’s Haller that said, ‘Shock the world.’ He likes to say that."
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
1. Matthew Freytag, Wayzata
The sophomore forward, Wayzata’s leading goal scorer with nine, flashed some playmaking ability -- again and again and again and again. Freytag helped set up four of four of the Trojans’ five second-period goals, and several of his passes were of the pinpoint variety that led to one-timers into an open net.
2. Aaron Dingmann, Wayzata
The big senior goaltender sat out much of last season with injury problems but has been a wall of granite this season for the Trojans. Dingmann says he enjoys facing teams loaded with sharpshooters – Benilde-St. Margaret’s fits that description – and his 39-save performance has to rank among the best of his career.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
Wayzata senior goaltender Aaron Dingmann made 39 saves against Benilde-St. Margaret's. Photo by Brian Nelson