Elk River goaltender Maclean Berglove makes a save on Blaine forward Dallas Gerads. Photo by Katherine Matthews
The coach fine-tuned the lineup, the goal scorers scored goals, the special teams were, indeed, special and the goaltender stopped every puck thrown his way, sometimes in the most spectacular of fashion.
To say everything went right for Elk River in the third period of its confidence-boosting 6-4 triumph over Northwest Suburban Conference rival Blaine on Thursday at Fogerty Arena would be a gross understatement, like noting that the recent arctic blast has resulted in “chilly” temperatures.
“It’s really fun to kind of get back on our winning track,” said Elks senior Chase Springman, who scored two power-play goals in the third period. “So we know where we are with all the other good teams in the state.”
The last time Elk River went toe-to-toe with top-flight competition, the Elks were undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the state. Three losses (to Eden Prairie, Edina and Grand Rapids) in as many days effectively sucked the swagger out of Elk River – just in time for the holidays.
“There are some games you win by a goal or two, and there are other games where you play lights out and it doesn’t happen for you,” said Elk River coach Gordie Roberts, who moved left wing Reggie Lutz up to his top line with Springman and Jake Jaremko for the third period. “Tonight we maybe caught a break or two, and our power play at the end scored a couple of big goals. Our goal scorers did what we hope they do every night, and that made a difference.”
Blaine (9-3-1) was ranked No. 4 in the state and Elk River (8-3-0) came in at No. 8. The Bengals led 4-2 on Tyler Cline’s second goal of the night just more than 4 minutes into the second period.
“Then we just kind of stopped playing,” Blaine coach Dave Aus said.
Elk River, meanwhile, was just getting cranked up.
Springman, a top player in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League this fall, repeatedly put himself in prime scoring positions. Eventually, the puck followed him to those spots. He made no mistake in putting it away.
“There were a lot of good shooters out there, for both teams,” Elk River goaltender Maclean Berglove said. “Goal scorers definitely find the puck in open areas and put it on net.”
Berglove knows of what he speaks. He faced a Blaine lineup that includes the likes of super snipers Brandan Notermann, Dallas Gerads, Joey Lau and Cline, among others. Cline twice beat Berglove for highlight-reel goals, but it was Berglove getting the final say on a final-minute power play.
Cline was all alone when got the puck to the left of the crease, needing only to fire it up and over a sprawling Berglove. Somehow, though, Berglove got his glove on the soaring puck, crashing to the ice as he made the save.
“Unspeakable,” Springman said about Berglove’s unlikely save. “I can’t even describe how good he is. Like our coach says, he is going to give us his best effort every night, no matter what.”
The understated Berglove said he had no doubt Elk River could stage a third-period comeback. As for his save on Cline, that’s just part of the give and take of being a goaltender facing elite-level sharpshooters, Berglove says.
“He’s a great player, he has a great future ahead of him,” Berglove said. “He gets a couple, I get a couple. We’ll call it even."