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Notes from Class AA: Upset specials

By Tim Kolehmainen, 03/12/09, 10:08PM CDT

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Moorhead and Cretin pull big upsets

Junkyard dogs

So how did a team with an eight-game losing streak on its resume upset the top-seeded Edina juggernaut?  According to Moorhead coach Dave Morinville, his team “played like junkyard dogs.”

“We scrap for everything we can find,” smiled Morinville.  “That’s the nature of this team.”

The Spuds shocked Edina and its vaunted Anders Lee-Marshall Everson-Connor Gaarder top line in the Class AA state quarterfinals Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center, 5-2.  Moorhead came out jumping, taking a 3-1 lead and outshooting the Hornets 21-9 at that point.  The Spuds attacked the Edina defense on the outside and crashed the net hard.

“We realized the strength of our team is our speed,” said Morinville, who said he had no intention of trying match lines with the Hornets or play against their weaknesses.  He had the Spuds play their game.

It was a shocking victory for a team that looked to be in a tailspin in January.  During its eight-game midseason skid, the Spuds only scored seven goals, including a 3-0 loss to the same Hornets in the Schwan Cup Gold quarterfinals. 

“The puck wasn’t falling for us and we lost confidence,” admitted senior Trent Johnson.  “But we kept working and the puck eventually started falling.  We gained our confidence back.”

They seemed to come out of their funk with a string of overtime victories, but to predict a victory over the top seed was nearly unthinkable.  Even Morinville admitted as much.

“I wouldn’t want to play them seven times,” grinned Morinville.  “We only had to beat them once.”

Walsh stands on head

Anyone who predicted a Moorhead-Cretin Class AA state semifinal, raise you hand?

Liars.

After watching the Spuds upset Edina, Cretin-Derham Hall did the same thing to fourth-seeded Duluth East, 5-2.  Goalie Ben Walsh made 37 saves as the Greyhounds dominated play, outshooting the Raiders 39-15.

“I like to get as many shots as possible in the first period,” said Walsh, who certainly did get his wish as the ‘Hounds put up a 15-4 edge in the opening 17 minutes, but trailed 2-0.  “I just get more comfortable when I get more shots.”

Cretin coach Jim O’Neill wasn’t surprised by the lopsided shot totals.  In fact, he claimed to have even predicted it to his team – including the score.

“We were prepared that we were going to get outshot,” admitted O’Neill.  “But we talked about how when we got chances, we had to take advantage of them.”

Andy Read and Bob Kinne scored 16 seconds apart early in the first period and the ‘Hounds were scrambling to get back into the game the rest of the evening.  They hammered away at Walsh, but were denied each time.

“They played a great game.  They outplayed us.  They outshot us,” said O’Neill.  “The only place we won was on the scoreboard.”

And that’s the only place it matters.  Cretin and Moorhead play in the Class AA state semifinals Friday in the second night game at the Xcel Energy Center.

Delayed celebration


Eden Prairie celebrated its victory over Hill-Murray in the Class AA quarterfinals twice.  When the Eagles’ Mike Erickson sneaked a loose puck past a scrum of players at the 2:46 mark of overtime, it sent Eden Prairie into a wild celebration. They just had to wait to make their 3-2 overtime victory official.

Replay officials immediately checked out the goal to determine a number of factors.  Was there an Eagles’ player in the crease?  If so, was he forced in?  Was the puck kicked in the net? 

“I went to Mikey (Erickson) and he said ‘Coach, it’s a goal,’ and I trust him,” shrugged Eagles’ coach Lee Smith.

As the time stretched on, the entire arena went into suspended animation.  Hill-Murray players knelt on the ice, hoping and praying for a positive result.  Goalie Tim Shaughnessy first took his helmet off, then after several minutes, put it back on and got back into the nets.  Eden Prairie players and coaches streamed onto the ice, but then lined up facing the penalty box, awaiting word on their delayed celebration.

“It was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever been through,” said Erickson.

Finally, the call came.  Goal.  Eden Prairie survived.
 
“You know my heart was racing,” admitted Smith.  “The community deserves a chance for us to get to the state championship game.“

The Eagles take on third-seeded Blaine Friday night at 6 p.m. in the Class AA semifinals at the Xcel Energy Center.  The Bengals downed Rochester Century, 5-0 in their quarterfinal.