The block-B logo worn by Breck took on different meaning in Wednesday’s game against Mankato West.
The Mustangs took 16 minutes worth of penalties but frustrated the Mankato West power-play units by blocking 29 shots.
Known for swift skating and skill, Breck showed its grit throughout an 8-0 victory. Blocking shots, coach Les Larson said, starts with a mind-set.
“That’s a gradual thing, that’s a heart thing,” Larson said.
“That’s something that this team has started to do. I don’t think our other teams really were that good at that. Maybe we didn’t have to do that. That’s a great sign, we are very proud of that.
Senior forward William Blake said: “When somebody blocks a shot, everyone on the bench is cheering pretty loud. It gets everyone motived and everyone on board right away. It’s a big aspect of our defense.”
Mankato West coach Curtis Doell said his team missed the net too often, a byproduct of Breck’s willingness to do the dirty work.
“They did a nice job of getting in shooting lanes, forcing our D-men to maybe fire it a little bit wide,” Doell said.
Ready for rematch
Kade Nelson recalls his introduction to Breck sniper Chase Ellingson earlier this season in vivid detail.
“I remember the first goal Chase scored on me,” the Thief River Falls goalie said. “He just skated across and put it in a spot about this big.”
Nelson held his hands high for that last part, making a circle just larger than the size of a puck.
The rest of that Dec. 5 game in Golden Valley is just a blur for Nelson, a senior co-captain who faced 40 shots in a 4-1 loss to the host Mustangs. Nelson has, however, been envisioning a possible rematch with Breck since then.
“We knew they were a talented team, and we imagined that they would be in the state tournament,” Nelson said after making 21 saves as the No. 3-seeded Prowlers beat Princeton 6-1. “I’ve been hoping we would get to the state tournament, too, and here we are. Here Breck is.”
Ellingson, Breck’s scoring leader and Mr. Hockey award finalist, had a hat trick in the Mustangs’ 8-0 rout of Mankato West to help set up the rematch at 11 a.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Hermantown senior Wyatt Aamodt was named the winner of the Reed Larson Award, presented by Let’s Play Hockey to the state’s top senior defenseman.
Aamodt has 24 goals and 68 assists for a total of 92 points in 89 career games coming into the Class 1A state tournament. He captained the No. 1-seeded Hawks to their seventh consecutive state tournament.
Aamodt is also a Mr. Hockey finalist. He is the seventh-highest rated Minnesota high school prospect in the NHL Central Scouting rankings for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.