With so much talent in every Elite League team’s lineup, it’s often tempting for the power-play units to go for the spectacular, tic-tac-toe goal.
For Team North? The emphasis is more on gritty than pretty.
“We just keep it nice and simple,” Team North forward Judd Peterson of Duluth Marshall said after a dramatic 5-5 tie with Team Southeast on Saturday, Sept. 25. “Get two guys on the puck. Get two guys in front of the net.”
Peterson was one of those “guys” in front of the net in the first period when he scored on a power-play deflection of a shot from defenseman Adam Barlow of South St. Paul.
Through Sept. 26, Team North ranked second in the league by capitalizing on 27.66 of its power-play opportunities.
With Team North trailing 5-4 and time running out in the third period, Peterson again stationed himself in front of the net. This time the pass came from Duluth East’s Dom Toninato in the corner.
“I saw the play starting down behind the net, so I just planted myself in front of the net,” said Peterson, who scored a team-best 16 goals and added 14 assists in 25 games for the Hilltoppers last season. “I called for it and he got a quick pass to me. I shot right when I got the pass. Five-hole.”
As for playing in the Elite League, Peterson said it has been a great experience so far.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s really fun. Nice competitive hockey. It’s fast. Much faster than high school hockey. So it is going to prepare me well for the season.”
While Team Southeast’s Justin Kloos of Lakeville South admits it’s nice to see his name perched atop the Elite League’s league scoring list, he isn’t overly excited about his numbers (four goals, 11 assists for a league-best 15 points in seven games).
“I’d like to see a couple of more wins,” Kloos said about his team’s 2-3-2 record.
Kloos, who scored 25 goals and added 20 assists last winter as a member of Lakeville South’s highly successful “Penguin Line,” has benefitted greatly from Team Southwest’s two blowout wins over Norway. Kloos scored five points in each of those games.
Playing primarily with Apple Valley standouts A.J. Michaelson and Hudson Fasching hasn’t hurt Kloos point totals, either.
“It’s special to play with them,” Kloos said. “They are going to someday play way up there, so it’s fun. Michaelson has the obvious speed, he stretches the rink so well for everyone else, everyone is better for playing with him.
“Fasching is one of the best players in the offensive zone. He is so good at getting the puck off the wall and into the net, it’s incredible.”
Kloos had two assists in Team Southwest’s 5-5 tie with Team North on Sept. 25 and has been held without a point just once during the Elite League season. Still, it’s Southeast’s record and position squarely in the middle of the league pack that is his biggest concern.
“We definitely feel like (we should have more wins),” Kloos said. “It’s the same story, we get a lot of shots and we just can’t find a way to get the puck in the net.”
1. Judd Peterson, Team North
The junior forward from Duluth Marshall scored twice, his second goal coming with 1 minute, 3 seconds remaining and with Team North goaltender Alex Lyon of Lake of the Woods pulled in favor of an extra skater. Peterson’s dramatics allowed Team North to forge a 3-3 tie with Team Southeast. Peterson scored a power-play goal in the first period on a nice redirection of a shot from the point.
2. Alex Lyon, Team North
A senior from Baudette who plays at Lake of the Woods High School, Lyon had his second blockbuster performance against Team Southeast in a week. He made 44 saves, many of them from point-blank range, as he repeatedly frustrated Team Southeast’s forwards.
3. Taylor Fleming, Team Southeast
The offensive-minded St. Thomas Academy senior had a goal and an assist and, as usual, was steady defensively.
In a game with so many penalties (23 in all) there were precious few full-strength shifts for either team, so the forward combinations were mostly jumbled. Here's an idea of how players were paired:
Apple Valley’s A.J. Michaelson typically had been playing right wing on the high-scoring line centered by Lakeville South’s Justin Kloos and including Apple Valley’s Hudson Fasching. Against Team North, Michaelson was shifted to a line with Kevin Becker of Hill-Murray and Michael Zajac of Eagan. Zach Schroeder took Michaelson’s place on the line with Kloos and Fasching.
Did the changes work?
Well, other than in games against Norway, the five goals matched the season high for Team Southeast. And the team’s scoring was definitely balanced, with five players (including two defensemen) notching goals.
On defense, the St. Thomas Academy tandem of junior Eric Schurhamer and senior Taylor Fleming accounted for two goals (one from each).
There weren’t many changes in forward combinations that have, for the most part, been clicking.
Garrett Hendrickson of Virginia scored two goals to give him three this Elite League season and Judd Peterson of Duluth Marshall also scored twice to give him four in seven games.
Players representing all four of Team North’s lines were involved in the scoring.
On defense, Team North was outstanding killing penalties (Team Southeast went 1-for-10) and the shot-blocking Duluth East duo of Hunter Bergerson and Nate Repensky was particularly effective during one of several 5-on-3 advantages for Team Southeast.
Judd Peterson of Duluth Marshall scored with 1 minute, 3 seconds remaining to lift Team North, which had pulled its goaltender in favor of an extra skater nine seconds earlier, into a 5-5 tie with Team Southeast on Saturday, Sept. 25, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League matchup at New Hope Arena in New Hope.
Peterson, stationed in front of the net, called for the puck and scored off a feed from Duluth East’s Dom Toninato, who capped some gritty corner work with the pinpoint pass.
The tie completed an improbable rally for Team North (5-1-1), which trailed 5-4 after Team Southeast defenseman Eric Schurhamer of St. Thomas Academy scored what appeared would be the winning goal with 7:19 left.
A.J. Michaelson (Apple Valley), Taylor Fleming (St. Thomas Academy), Hudson Fasching (Apple Valley) and Zach Schroeder (St. Thomas Academy) also scored for Team Southeast (2-3-2), which trailed 2-1 after the opening period and 3-1 less than a minute into the second after a goal by Team North’s Matt Pohlkamp of Brainerd.
Virgina senior Garrett Hendrickson scored twice for Team North, which converted two of four power-play opportunities. Team Southeast went 1-for-10 on the power play.
Lyon finished with 45 saves for Team North while Charlie Lingren of Lakeville North had 21 saves.
Three players exited the game for taking misconduct penalties and 23 penalties were called in all, including 11 in the second period.