Benidle-St. Margaret's coach Ken Pauly was the first to admit that the Red Knights did not play their best against St. Thomas Academy.
"It was a great comeback win, but that's really all it was for us," Pauly said. "To be very blunt, we were pretty brutal for the majority of the night. We were showing the effects of what happens when we don't practice for four straight days."
Even though it wasn't at its best, No. 6-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret's beat No. 11 St. Thomas Academy 4-3 on Carter Roo's overtime goal on Tuesday at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
"You have to win in a lot of ways," Pauly said. "You have to win when you're bad, too."
Red Knights' forward Chase Jungels picked up a loose puck at his own blue line, raced into the Cadets' zone and got a shot off on goalie Charlie Hallett, who made the save. But Roo was crashing the net and found a wide-open net to score his ninth of the season.
"I knew I was going to have a backchecker, so I decided to go towards the net," Roo said.
Roo's goal epitomized the way Benilde-St. Margaret's found the back of the net all game.
Know for being a team of highly skilled players scoring highlight reel goals, the Red Knights reverted to grit and ground out the tough win.
Before Roo's overtime winner, Ben Newhouse scored on a shot from the point that got through traffic. Jacob Holmers pulled Benilde-St. Margaret's within one when he fired a one-timer in from the slot, and Chase Jungels tied it up on the power play in the third when his shot barely trickled past Hallett.
"When you go up against a big team like that, that's where you are going to have to do it," Roo said.
St. Thomas Academy took a 2-0 lead into the third period before Newhouse finally scored for Benilde-St. Margaret's on the power play.
Cadets' forward Tom Novak seized some of that momentum back when he scored on a breakaway two minutes later.
"That was a big goal," Cadets' coach Tom Vannelli said. "I thought that would be a cushion to give us momentum and life."
Holmers and Jungels scored less than three minutes apart, and the Red Knights controlled the pace the rest of the period and in overtime
"After the second period we just kind of beared down," Roo said. "We had a couple days off, and I think we were kind of rusty. In the end we just kind of worked hard."
Roo transferred to Benilde-St. Margaret's from Totino-Grace this season. A year ago he had 19 goals and 33 assists in 29 games.
Through 15 games this season his nine goals are second on the Red Knights, but none was bigger than his overtime winner tonight.
"Oh yeah, for sure," Roo said. "No doubt about it."
"I think he needed to get a signature goal as a Red Knight," Pauly said.
The Cadets drop to 7-4-1 and will be back home on Thursday against South St. Paul.
Benilde-St. Margaret's improved to 10-3-2 and will be off until Saturday when it takes to the road against Section 6AA foe Minnetonka.