Breck players stand along the boards with their fans after the Mustangs defeated Delano 6-2 in the Section 2A final on Thursday at Parade Ice Garden. Photo by Adam Crane
Breck's Chase Ellingson (8) gets a shot on goal in the Mustangs 6-2 victoy over Delano in the Section 2A finals. Photo by Adam Crane
Every team wants it and every team needs it.
The coaches on some of the state's elite programs will talk about the need of depth from its roster if there will be any shot at a state title.
For No. 2-ranked (Class 1A) Breck that may have been a bit of an issue coming into the 2012 season.
Losses to graduation and early departures hit the Mustangs hard and if they were going to advance to their fifth straight state tournament they were going to need some younger players to step up.
Case in point, freshman Chase Ellingson.
Dawning the flowing locks, a model for playoff hockey hair, Ellingson exited the ice scoring a goal and recorded two assists in No. 1-seeded Breck's 6-2 victory over Delano in the Section 2A championship on Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Parade Ice Garden.
"It's a dream come true," Ellingson said. "You hear a lot of our guys talk about going to state, but to actually be on the team and going there is amazing."
Ellingson has fit in flawlessly for the Mustangs.
Through 27 games he has accumulated 12 goals and 10 assists.
Those may appear to be modest numbers compared to Breck's heavy hitters in Matt Colford, Thomas Lindstrom and Jack O'Connor, each who have eclipsed 30 points or more, but contributions from younger players such as Ellingson will be vital when the Mustangs head to St. Paul to contend for their fifth state tournament title.
"Our top line, O'Connor, Lindstrom and myself, we are going to have to score a couple of goals, but we will need our other lines to score as well," Colford said. "Tonight they did. I think our second and third lines scored three goals or something like that and that is going to be important for next week."
Breck coach Les Larson had the luxury of being able to send out three lines consistently and it eventually wore on the Tigers as the game progressed.
Delano jumped out to leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period and sent a boisterous student section geared in the school's colors of orange and black into a frenzy.
The Tigers used their top line of Adam McLain, Eric Ylitalo and Justin Oja whenever it could to keep the spark going and when the Mustangs started to take control late in the first period, Delano needed and continued to sends its top line.
Breck stayed the course rolling its lines out one after another.
"You know they were pumped for this one," Larson said. "They had their band and a lot more students than us. I think some of our younger guys might have been a little nervous, but when we got them going, we were able to send three lines out for pretty much the whole game.
"There are a lot of young guys on our team and we have high expectations of them. They went through a tough stretch not too long ago and we just talked to them and told them to just keep playing and good things happened to them tonight."
The Mustangs will head to St. Paul with a 24-3-1 record. Two of those losses were identical 2-1 defeats to No. 1 (Class A) St. Thomas.
If the Cadets are able to make it to the state tournament and defend their title for the second consecutive season there might be a third meeting this year between the two.
"We lost a few close ones this year and lost last year in a close one to them, so we want to get them again," O'Connor said.
For now, Larson will just worry about getting his team settled in St. Paul first.
"It never gets old going there and that is all you want, just a chance to play there," Larson said. "When you get there, you think about the first game before you start moving forward and that is where our focus will be."
Breck's Michael Orke scores in the third period of the Mustangs' 6-2 win over Delano in the Section 2A finals. Photo by Adam Crane
No. 1-seeded Breck advanced to its fifth consecutive Class 1A state tournament with a dominating 6-2 win against No. 2-seeded Delano in the Class 2A championship on Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Parade Ice Gardens in Minneapolis.
The Mustangs unloaded 45 shots on goal and limited the Tigers to only 18.
Senior Jack O'Connor had a goal and an assist for Breck, but the Mustangs got contributions from its underclassmen.
Freshman Chase Ellingson and junior Michael Orke each scored a goal and two assists.
Thomas Lindstrom, Mark Sharp and Parker Montgomery also scored for Breck.
Delano opened the scoring 2 minutes, 48 seconds into the first period on Eric Ylitalo.
O'Connor would tie the score, but Adam McLain put the Tigers up 2-1 3 minutes, 30 seconds later.
The Mustangs found their groove late in the first when Lindstrom scored late in the first period, which sparked five unanswered goals.
Tigers' goalie Aaron Grangroth was under fire all night and ended with 39 saves.
Henry Johnson finished with 16 for Breck.
Delano finishes with a 16-11-1 record
The Mustangs will be in the state tournament for the 10th time in school history. They won the Class 1A title four times (2000, 2004, 2009,2010).
Breck will begin its quest for a fifth title on Wednesday, March 6 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
1. Jack O'Connor, Breck
As one of the senior captains, O'Connor played the role of leader with the Mustangs first goal, which tied the score in the first period. Down 1-0 Breck needed a quick punch to settle the nerves and quiet the hostile Tigers' crowd. O'Connor delivered.
2. Chase Ellingson, Breck
Every team needs depth and some may believe looking to a freshman might be going a little too far. Not for the Mustangs. Fitting in as well as an upperclassmen, Ellingson scored a goal and recorded two assists to help Breck reach the Xcel Energy Center for the fifth straight season.
3. Michael Orke, Breck
The junior was robbed of a goal in the second period, when Tigers' goalie Aaron Grangroth came up with a highlight-reel glove save on a breakaway. That did not deter him from shooting. Orke also scored a goal and chipped in with two assists.