Lakeville North's Blake Brandt (7) celebrates his game winning goal with 15.1 seconds left in a tied 2-2 third period against Duluth East on Dec. 13. Photo by Korey McDermott, SportsEngine
Lakeville North looked to be headed to overtime for a third time in four games this season after Keaton Pehrson dumped a puck into Duluth East’s corner with the clock winding down.
What was an innocent chip into the offensive zone turned into an opportunistic chance for the Panthers as the puck took an odd bounce off the boards instead of ringing around the Greyhounds' net.
“We got a lucky bounce off the boards and the goalie’s head was looking the other way, so I picked it up behind the net and stuffed it the corner,” Blake Brandt said, describing his game-winner with 15 seconds remaining. The goal shocked Duluth East and clinched Lakeville North a 3-2 win Tuesday night at Ames Arena.
The Panthers, who are ranked No. 10 in Class 2A by Let’s Play Hockey, were held scoreless in the first period by the No. 11-2A Greyhounds, who had only allowed a goal in each of their four games, but responded with three goals in the final 34 minutes.
After taking a 3-2 overtime decision in 2014, the 2015 state championship 4-1, and a 3-2 win at Hockey Day Minnesota last year, Lakeville North (3-1) won its fourth consecutive game against Duluth East.
“These games are the ones that are fun to play and coach in. It’s good, honest hockey,” Panthers coach Trent Eigner said. “It’s physical, it’s intense. It’s two teams trying to play hockey the right way and it's fun to be in those matchups.”
Greyhounds coach Mike Randolph put no blame on goaltender Lukan Hanson who saved 27 of 30 shots for Duluth East (3-2).
“The kids—I told them—don’t make any excuses about the last bounce that didn’t go our way. We didn’t deserve to win the game, they were the better team for two periods,” Randolph said. “Hanson was the only reason it was this close."
The Panthers are playing in their first season without a member of the Poehling family that elevated the program to three consecutive state tournament appearances, an undefeated season and its first-ever state championship in 2015.
Eigner said that team has had to adjust to not getting five goals per game and instead tighten up its defensive play.
“For us, it’s about learning how to win close hockey games and being able to suffice on two or three goals,” Eigner said.
Brandt was a player on the bubble of the varsity team last year as a sophomore, but emerged as a regular contributor who now starts for the Panthers.
While his first goal of the season may have been a stroke of luck, the confidence can surely help his team as they expect to be in more close games this season.
“We’re a fast team with a bunch of seniors who aren’t going to give up games like we have before.”
Lakeville North and Duluth East battled to the wire at Lakeville's Ames Arena. The Panthers defeated the Greyhounds for a second straight time, with a 3-2 victory, after taking last year's outdoor game in Duluth. Photo by Korey McDermott, SportsEngine
Blake Brandt netted the game-winning goal, his first of the season, with 15 seconds left in regulation to lift the Panthers to a 3-2 win over Duluth East Tuesday night at Ames Arena in Lakeville.
Ranked No. 10 in Class 2A by Let’s Play Hockey, the Panthers (3-1) overcame a scoreless first period and outshot the No. 11-2A Greyhounds 22-15 in the final two frames.
Freshman Logan Anderson fed sophomore Ricky Lyle for a pair of goals, one in each period for Duluth East (3-2).
Brock Draeger had a goal and an assist for Lakeville North, while Panthers goalie Buzz Eigner turned aside 19 shots.
Greyhounds goalie Lukan Hanson made 27 saves in the loss.
Duluth East forward Ricky Lyle (15) netted both of his team's goals against Lakeville North in the 3-2 loss. Photo by Korey McDermott, SportsEngine
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