St. Michael-Albertville defeated Mounds View 8-0 Friday night in Blaine. Photo by Will Jarvis, SportsEngine
The scoring started early and continued until the end for St. Michael-Albertville, who beat Mounds View (6-4, 3-2) 8-0 Friday night in the Schwan’s Cup Silver Division semifinals.
The Knights (8-1, 1-1), ranked No. 16 in Class 2A according to the coaches’ poll, had offensive help from up and down the lineup, with seven different players tallying a goal. This season, 15 different varsity players have scored for the Knights.
“We have a lot more depth this year compared to last year,” said junior Blake Spetz. “We roll four lines, so come the third period, the other team is worn out. We have energy because we haven’t had as much ice time.”
Last year, Spetz said the fourth line got one, maybe two shifts per game. Now, with scoring talent throughout the varsity roster, coach Jeremiah Johnson can rest his top lines without fretting.
The Knights average 5.67 goals per game, but Johnson said scoring early had been a struggle. That wasn’t the case Friday night. Zach Sjelin scored on a rebound at 9:58 of the opening period, and teammate Mitch Bourgerie added to the lead 52 seconds later.
“We talked to our guys and we wanted to have a good start tonight,” Johnson said. “We had a challenge tonight that we wanted to be good in the first period. We did that tonight.”
The Knights kept up the tempo, scoring three second-period goals. One came shorthanded, just seconds after a St. Michael-Albertville penalty, and the third of the period, from Caden Sigerud, came on the power play. They added three more goals in the final period.
Much of the offensive success is credit to a pesky playing style that frustrates opponents. Checks are finished. Forechecks are fast and hard. The Mustangs were called for three penalties in the second period, including a roughing call that occurred after St. Michael-Albertville's fifth goal.
“I wouldn’t want to play a team that hits a ton,” Spetz said. “They try to get in our heads and get rough penalties, but our discipline helps us stay out of that.”
But the Knights weren’t without penalties. Johnson said he hopes his team can limit themselves to three penalties or less per game. The Knights were called for six on Friday night. Coming into the season, he knew a state tournament run depended on his team’s discipline.
“From day 1 this year, we said what’s going to keep us out of St. Paul is discipline. Tonight got a little physical, but I was proud of them. We didn’t get any cheap shots, we walked away from their guys and we got on the powerplay.”
St. Michael-Albertville faces Breck in the Silver Division championship Saturday at Ridder Arena. The Knights won the last matchup between the two teams, on Dec. 20, thanks to a four-goal comeback in the third period.
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