A pair of Section 5AA classics played out at the Warner Coliseum Tuesday night as the Blaine Bengals rallied for a 2-1 overtime victory against Osseo and the Centennial Cougars defeated the Maple Grove Crimson in a 6-4 game that goes down as an instant classic.
The Osseo Orioles executed a sterling game plan that included shutting down the vaunted offensive Blaine Bengals. The first period was scoreless and at the 3:10 mark of the second period Osseo’s Tim Bonner gave his team a 1-0 lead. It held up for the majority of the third period, and the Orioles played it close to the vest, had a couple of power plays yet could not convert.
As the period wore on, the Bengals continued to turn up the heat as they outshot the Orioles 11-5 in the period. It was on their 11th shot that they tied it with the extra attacker. Luke Bayer walked off the left point to bury a puck from the left side past Osseo goalie Ben Cohn with :42 left on the clock.
In overtime it was Zac Frishmon with the game winning goal as he sent his club to the Section final at 5:14. The Orioles played a disciplined and focused game and deserved to win, while the Bengals maintained their composure and stuck with it until the end being rewarded for their patience and their belief in the team. They were rewarded with a Section Final and were set to face off with another Northwest Suburban Conference foe as the Maple Grove Crimson and the Centennial Cougars faced off in the night cap.
The Crimson jumped out and took the 2-0 lead on goals by Adam Reichardt at 1:34 and then Alec Horton blasted one past Centennial goalie Brett Larsen. Horton’s shot rang off the goal post to Horton’s glove and side and rolled in the net for the stunning 2-0 lead.
The Crimson continued with an impressive jump and gave the Cougars trouble throughout the early going of the period. Centennial gathered themselves in and cut the lead in half as Tyler Pitlick took a rink-wide pass at the Crimson blue line and blasted a shot past Maple Grove goalie Sean Elmer at 14:44.
Feeding off that energy, it was the Cougars that tied the score :17 later as Willie Hess lifted a puck over Elmer off a scramble in the crease to tie the game at two at the first intermission. The Cougars continued their surge in the second period as James Hughes gave the Cougars their first lead at 13:39.
Not to be outdone, it was the Crimson who responded less than a minute later as Tom Malone jumped on a rebound that laid helplessly in the crease to tie it at 3 just :49 later. The two teams split in the regular season with Centennial winning a defensive struggle 2-1 at Maple Grove and the Crimson winning 5-2 at Centennial.
The Cougars took the pace to the Crimson for the start of the third period, it waned however, as the teams alternated back and forth with momentum like a metronome. Centennial’s Riley Colvard took a clearing attempt that resulted from a broken Crimson stick and blasted it past Elmer for the 4-3 lead.
As the see-saw battle continued, a simple pass in the neutral zone from Horton to Joe Bartlett forced what appeared to be a harmless one on one. Bartlett worked the defenseman to the high slot for a partial screen and fired a quick shot that hit the bottom of the Centennial defenceman’s stick that hopped off the ice and eluded Larsen for the 4-4 tie.
The game tightened up and it was a matter of the next turn over, or the team that generated the ugliest goal. The Cougars won that battle as Mr. Reliable Jordan Lovick peeled a puck out of the pile at the top of the crease, moved to his left, took the puck to his backand, waited patiently, and deposited the puck to the back of the net for the game winning goal with just :27 left.
Tyler Pitlick buried the empty net goal for the 6-4 final. It truly was a night of a pair of instant classics from the Class 5AA Section Semi-Finals. One can only imagine what the final will have to offer as the Centennial Cougars and Blaine Bengals dance once again in the Section Finals this Friday night.
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