Dylan Klatt (8) celebrates his first period goal that gave Crookston a 2-0 lead over Kittson Central. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen.
In hockey parlance, there are "dirty goals" and "pretty goals." Both count the same on the scoreboard, but are supposed to mean something very different in terms of skills.
Pretty goals are scored by the snipers and magicians. They're the ones who can pick the corners from 30 feet out, blaze past a flat-footed defensemen or deke one out of his shorts with a toe drag. Highlight reels are filled with their goals. It's all quickness and sleight of hand.
Dirty goals are scored by the muckers and grinders. They're the bowling ball-type players who battle their way through traffic, fighting off poke checks, stick checks and just plain cross checks. There is nothing glamorous about their goals. It's all bruises and ice baths.
Come playoff time, though, every goal is a highlight reel one. And predetermined roles go right out the window.
To quote the late Al Davis, it's just win, baby.
In Thursday night's 6-2 victory over fifth-seeded Kittson Central in the Section 8A quarterfinals at the Crookston Sports Center, No. 4 Crookston did just that. The Pirates got plenty of dirt and glitz from its top line of seniors Connor Morgan and Ryan Edevold and junior Brady Heppner -- sometimes on the same scoring play.
Edevold, who claimed he was more sniper than grinder, took on the latter role to send the Pirates into the semifinals. He opened the scoring with a harmless-looking shot on net that seemed to squeeze between Kittson Central goaltender Tucker Cosley's arm and body just 3:22 into the game. Later, Edevold assisted on Morgan's goal that put the game out of reach. He fought off two Bearcats' defensemen in the corner, swept behind the net and fired a pass right onto Morgan's tape. Morgan's one-timer pushed Crookston's lead to 5-1 with 4:59 to play in the second period.
The goals came on a reversal of roles, according to Edevold.
"Connor really does the dirty work in the corners and Brady and me are smaller (in size)," said Edevold. "We're more of the ones who take advantage of his passes."
It's a line with great chemistry and players who are willing to toss predefined roles for the better of the team.
"We've been playing together for four years," explained Morgan, who finished with a goal and an assist. "And now we're seniors and this is it. Well, except for Brady who's a junior."
Heppner shouldn't feel like the odd man out. Far from it.
The junior also scored a goal and an assist to give the line a seven-point night (three goals, four assists). But the top line also had plenty of help.
Before the first period was over Thursday night, all three lines got on the board for the Pirates.
Six-foot-2 power forward Dylan Klatt, who anchors the Pirates' second line, got into the act next. He corralled a loose puck in the high slot and ripped a low wrister into the goal at the 8:16 mark for a 2-0 lead. After Billy Thorsteinson scored for Kittson Central, third-liner Ethan Mercil regained a 3-1 lead for Crookston. Klatt capped the scoring in the third period with his second goal of the night.
The result was also a reversal from earlier this season, when the Pirates needed overtime to beat Kittson Central, 5-4. In that game, Bearcats' coach Robert Carr felt both teams played more passively, but it was certainly a more aggressive Pirates' team on Thursday night.
"That's really been our style all year long," said Edevold. "We want to play physical and take the body when we can."
Physical also described the play of senior defenseman Ryan Bittner, another four-year veteran and the son of coach Jon Bittner. The 6-foot-2 senior defenseman knows the test gets tougher in Saturday night's Section 8A semifinal against top-seeded East Grand Forks. In two meetings, the Green Wave swept Crookston by identical 7-2 scores. The Pirates get one more shot at 6 p.m. at the East Grand Forks Civic Center.
Bittner nodded his head as he was asked whether the Pirates would need to come out with the same intensity as in Thursday night's victory.
"Even more," said Bittner. "We have to play even better."
Kittson Central coach Robert Carr talks about his team's season and the 6-2 loss at Crookston in the Section 8A quarterfinals.
Senior Dylan Klatt scored twice as No. 4 Crookston kept its season alive with a 6-2 victory over No. 5 Kittson Central in the Section 8A quarterfinals at the Crookston Sports Center Thursday, Feb. 21.
Back in the second week of the regular season, the Pirates squeezed out a one-goal victory over Kittson Central, but Crookston took the rematch decisively. Crookston scored twice in the opening half of the first period and never trailed.
Ryan Edevold opened the scoring just 3:22 into the game and later assisted on Connor Morgan's second period goal that pushed the lead to 4-1. Brady Heppner and Morgan each had a goal and an assist, while Edevold finished with a goal and two assists for Crookston (14-12-0). Parker Epema made 17 saves for the Pirates, who advance to the Section 8A semifinals at 6 p.m. Saturday night, Feb. 23 against No. 1 East Grand Forks at the East Grand Forks Civic Center.
Billy Thorsteinson and Joey Pastir scored for Kittson Central (14-10-0), which saw its season come to a close. Tucker Cosley made 37 saves on 43 shots.
1. Ryan Edevold, Crookston
The Pirates' senior was relentless on the forecheck all game long, constantly pressuring Bearcats' defensemen into turnovers -- and converting them into Crookston goals. Edevold finished with a goal, but it was his assist on Connor Morgan's second period goal that highlighted his game. Edevold took on two Kittson Central defensemen in the corner, managed to pull away from both and then fed Morgan for a tap-in goal.
3. Ryan Bittner, Crookston
Crookston's leading scorer didn't factor on the scoreboard, but her certainly proved tough defensively. His size and reach frustrated the Bearcats all game long, as they just couldn't seem to get around the big defenseman.