Mankato West goalie Conor Wollenzien tries to poke the puck from Rochester Mayo's Ryan Martin as Scarlets' defenseman Scott McKissick gives chase. Photo by Loren Nelson
Derek Frentz, who ranks fifth in the state in goal scoring, had two assists but it was Cole Filler who took over the scoring load by registering a hat trick in Mankato West's 7-3 win over Rochester Mayo on Thursday, Feb. 7, at Graham Ice Arena in Rochester.
West was able to keep Mayo from clinching a share of the Big 9 Conference title with the victory. Both teams teams have 28 points in the conference and have split their season series. Mankato West has two conference games remaining; Rochester Mayo has three.
"Crashing the net and getting in the goalies face is what I did tonight," Filler said.
The Scarlets (19-4-0) established their dominance early, scoring six unanswered goals in the first two periods. The game had the look of a tennis match with many odd-man rushes given up on both sides of the puck.
West's lightning-quick transition game, starting with its defensemen, was integral in producing so many scoring opportunities.
"We've been working a lot on our transition game, that was one of the key things tonight," Mankato West coach Curtis Doell said.
"We wanted to come out making quick decisions," said Scarlets defenseman Scott McKissick who had an assist.
Rochester Mayo (17-4-1) started cold, with only six shots in the first two periods. The floodgates opened a little too late as the Spartans outscored West 3-1 in the final period.
West's Conor Wollenzien saved 12 of 15 shots and Mayo's Cass Hansen stopped 28 of 35.
With the regular season coming to a close, Mankato West still is hoping to make a run for the conference title.
"We got to take care of our business, we need some help to get the share we need," Doell said about the possibility of conference title. "It'd be nice to hang another banner in our rink. If not, we showed we can play with them tonight."
1. Cole Filler, Mankato West
The junior forward was busy burying the puck from start to finish, as he scored twice in the first peered and completed his hat trick with .5 seconds left. Filler's first goal came as he crashed the net off a line change and was able to catch a pass from Nate Krueger across the front of the net and send it home. Filler's deft judgment of the clock, and shooting, in the final seconds got him the the hat trick.
2. Tyler Jutting, Mankato West
The freshman defenseman played like a veteran, scoring a goal and registering an assist on a goal by his older brother Ryan. He intercepted several Mayo passes and was able to break the puck out of the Scarlets' zone quickly and efficiently, a common theme for all the Scarlets' defensemen.
3. Scott McKissick, Mankato West
The junior defenseman had an assist and also played a key role in the Scarlets' zone. McKissick was able to control the puck when things got hectic in the third and made quality passes to take pressure off West goaltender Connor Wollenzien.