Holy Family Catholic defenseman Peter Tabor moves the puck up ice against Lakeville North on Feb. 2 in Lakeville. Tabor had a goal and an assist in the 3-0 victory over the Panthers. Photo by Korey McDermott, SportsEngine
There’s Matt Anderson, swapping positions on the power play with Peter Tabor. Now James Marooney is swapping sides with Brady Ziemer. Or is that Ziemer moving into Anderson’s spot near the blue line, and Tabor taking Ziemer’s place on the wing?
Watching Holy Family Catholic’s defensemen run a power play is a dizzying exercise, as difficult to track as a New York City street hustler working the shell game.
Now you see the puck, now it is in the back of the net.
Holy Family Catholic coach Noel Rahn has the luxury of mixing and matching four Division I-caliber defensemen. He puts two or three of them on the power play, and they freelance it from there.
“I like running the power play with him,” Anderson, a senior Minnesota-Duluth commit, said about Tabor. “I don’t have to stay on top. We get to move around a lot, because me, him and Almy (junior forward and Wisconsin commit Ben Almquist) can pretty much go anywhere, move it around, get some shots and hopefully get some goals.”
The results can be devastating to opposing teams, as Lakeville North learned on Thursday night in a 3-0 loss to the Fire in a matchup of top-10 ranked Class 2A teams at a lively Ames Arena in Lakeville.
Tabor, a junior in his first year with the Holy Family Catholic after transferring from Edina, scored a power play goal and set up another, with both goals coming as a result of all that head-spinning puck and player movement.
“You know what, when we get going, I don’t think there are many teams that can stop us,” Tabor said. “That is what has surprised me the most.”
The Fire, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A in the state coaches’ poll, improved to 16-3-1. The victory was their ninth straight, and they have allowed more than three goals just once all season (in a 6-1 loss to Moorhead on Dec. 29).
Rahn benched all four of his top defenseman at one point in that loss to the Spuds, a watershed moment for a team that has allowed more than two goals just twice in their 11 games since. Thursday’s shutout was the fifth of the season for the Fire, who opted to move up to Class 2A for the 2011-12 season and last season lost 4-2 to eventual state runner-up Eden Prairie in the Section 2 semifinals.
“Our first couple of years, with (Shane) Gersich and (Will) Garin, we were winning games 8-7, and that just wasn’t going to get it done,” said Rahn, a former star forward at Edina who, while serving as a scout for the Minnesota Wild, learned the importance of defense from former Wild coach Jacques Lemaire.
Lessons have been learned in the playoffs, too. Rahn has taken notes as defensive-minded teams have won pretty much all of the most recent Class 2A titles.
“Come playoff time, the teams that were winning were like us right now, the teams with really good defensemen and good goaltending,” he said.
Junior Jared Moe stopped all 27 shots he faced against the No. 7-2A Panthers (15-4-2). He ranks seventh in the state with a 1.51 goals-against average and is the prime beneficiary of the Fire’s usually airtight D corps.
“I’m not too busy in most games,” Moe said. “And they tend to keep the shots to the outside; they don’t allow a lot of chances. And when they do, they lock it down on the rebounds.”
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Anderson figures to be a Mr. Hockey finalist. The 5-9, 170-pound Marooney scored on a dazzling rush against the Panthers. He has 10 goals to lead all Fire defensemen and has committed to play at Ohio State.
Ziemer, a 5-10, 173-pound junior, has been a mainstay on defense since he was a freshman. Rahn figures it’s only a matter of time before Ziemer commits to a DI program.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve, man, he’s a warrior,” Rahn said. “He was probably our best defenseman last year in our Eden Prairie game in the sections playoffs. We’ve got no problem putting him out there late in a game.”
And there’s Tabor, who has blossomed after receiving only sporadic playing time last season for Edina. Wisconsin and Bemidji State are among the programs showing interest in the 6-1, 190-pound junior who has nine goals and ranks second on the team with 24 points.
“To get him over from Edina, to steal him from them, it’s been nice,” Anderson said about Tabor. “For sure, he’s been a great addition to the team.”
Holy Family Catholic goalie Jared Moe eyes one of 22 Panther shots he turned away in a shutout victory Thursday night in Lakeville. Photo by Korey McDermott, SportsEngine
Junior goaltender Jared Moe made 27 saves and junior defenseman Peter Tabor and junior forward Joe Simon each had a goal and an assist as Holy Family Catholic, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A in the state coaches’ poll, eased past No. 7-2A Lakeville North 3-0 on Thursday night at Ames Arena in Lakeville.
Tabor and Simon each scored on the power play as the Fire (16-3-1), unbeaten in their last 10 games, capitalized on both their man-advantage chances.
Junior defenseman James Marooney, who has committed to play at Ohio State, also scored for Holy Family Catholic, and junior forward Ben Almquist, a Wisconsin commit, added two assists.
Lakeville North’s Buzz Eigner stopped 22 of 25 shots. The Panthers (15-4-2) went 0-for-3 on the power play.
Their best scoring chance came on a Reed Smith breakaway in the first period with Holy Family Catholic leading 1-0.
The teams skated to a 1-1 overtime tie in their previous meeting, a Dec. 30 matchup during the Sports Authority Classic at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
Lakeville North goalie Buzz Eigner stretches to defend an attempted Holy Family Catholic centering pass Feb 2. Photo by Korey McDermott, SportsEngine
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