Team Southeast’s Joseph LaBate was surprised when he walked into the South Rink at New Hope Ice Arena for the opening quarterfinal game of the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League playoffs Friday night. Team Northeast was pulling off a major upset against Team Northwest.
With his team being the favorite going into the second quarterfinal matchup against Team Southwest, it was obvious that anything could happen in the playoffs.
“It was definitely a wake-up call,” LaBate, a senior at Holy Angels, said. “We were more ready for the (Team Southwest) game knowing the other guys were going to be playing harder.”
Being ready seemed to pay off for Team Southeast as it handedly defeated Team Southwest, 10-4 on Friday, Oct. 29.
It also seemed to pay off for LaBate, who scored two goals in the game.
“The first goal, I got the puck in the slot and I just ripped it five-hole," LaBate said. "(On the) second one, I got a great pass off the boards and I came down, the goalie tried to poke check and I went five-hole again. I have to give it up for my linemates.”
LaBate was quick to credit his team for their success and victory.
“We struggled during the season but we picked it up at the end of the year. We’re on a five game winning streak so we brought that momentum into the game.”
As for the Saturday, Oct. 30 semifinal matchup against Team Northeast, LaBate knows he and his team will need to work hard to make sure they don’t become the second straight favorite to fall in an upset to Team Northeast.
“We have to come with the same mentality as we did tonight. We have to bring it tomorrow. (Team Northeast) is going to come out hard so we have to be ready.”
1. Joseph LaBate, Team Southeast
The Academy of Holy Angels senior forward played an integral part in the Team Southeast victory by scoring two goals – both coming soon after Team Southwest had scored – to keep momentum on his team’s side. One goal came off a great breakaway pass by teammate Patrick Daly of Benilde-St.Margaret’s, which LaBate was able to bury past Team Southwest’s Andrew Ford of Eden Prairie.
2. Justin Kloos, Team Southeast
Kloos, a junior from Lakeville South, notched four points (one goal, three assists) for Team Southeast. Kloos’ goal helped end a strong second period for Team Southwest and every pass he connected in the offensive zone seemed to turn into an assist.
3. Patrick Daly, Team Southeast
Not only did the Benilde-St. Margaret's senior defenseman do a great job protecting the Team Southeast defensive zone, he also assisted on three goals.
When Team Southeast filed into the South rink at New Hope Ice Arena before its quarterfinal game in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League Friday night, Oct. 29 in New Hope, it must have been surprised to see Team Northeast upsetting Team Northwest in the opening quarterfinal game.
Southeast, the favorite in its later matchup against Team Southwest, was suddenly reminded that anything was possible at this point. For Team Southwest, the earlier result meant it had hope to provide the second upset of the night.
Unfortunately for Team Southwest, nine different scorers provided 10 goals for Team Southeast, which was more than good enough for a spot in the semifinals. When the final horn sounded, Team Southeast stood victorious, 10-4.
Apple Valley’s Hudson Fasching started the evening off with a goal for Team Southeast, but Team Southwest was determined to keep things close.
Bloomington Jefferson’s Ryan Siiro and Delano/Rockford’s Tyler Heinonen scored two unanswered goals for Team Southwest and it seemed like the matchup would be a back and forth game.
That’s when Burnsville’s Michael Dockry and Academy of Holy Angels’ Joseph LaBate scored two unanswered goals for Team Southeast. After the first period, Southeast led 3-2.
Team Southeast continued the scoring with a powerplay goal coming from St. Thomas Academy’s Zach Schroeder to make it 4-2.
Edina’s Steven Fogarty kept things close for Team Southwest with a goal to make it 4-3 but that deficit increased with two more unanswered goals for Team Southeast by LaBate and Lakeville South’s Justin Kloos.
Heinonen scored a powerplay goal for Team Southwest to cut the lead to 6-3, but that would be the last goal for Southwest.
Eagan’s Will Merchant scored 23 seconds later for Team Southeast with assists from Kloos and fellow Eagan teammate Michael Zajac. It only took seven seconds for Team Southeast to score again – this time Zajac scored with Merchant and Kloos assisting.
Apple Valley’s AJ Michaelson added a shorthanded goal and St. Thomas Academy’s AJ Reid scored the 10th and final goal for Team Southeast.
Team Southwest goaltender Andrew Ford, an Eden Prairie senior, made 30 saves in the game but was replaced with Edina’s Connor Girard after allowing the 10th goal.