Tell Cody Corbett to just shoot the puck and there will be no problem. He did so for Stillwater in a 4-3 win against White Bear Lake on Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Vadnais Heights Sports Complex.
The junior defenseman for Stillwater fires the puck at will, especially after a talk with Ponies coach Phil Housley about not being so cute with his shots.
“He has a terrific shot and he will find a way to get it by you,” Housley said. “His goal, just a quick reaction and I don’t know if (Jared) Schletty was ready for it, but it goes back to what I told him. He was trying to pick corners from back there. As a defensemen, you are just trying to get the puck to the forwards, who are battling for you in front of the net.”
Corbett’s final shot against the Bears was just a simple wrist shot from the blue line while being pinned against the boards. There was no traffic in front of Schletty, but somehow it found its way into the back of the net and Stillwater was able deliver White Bear Lake its first conference loss of the season.
“Just got the puck at the blue line and ripped a shot from the point,” Corbett said. “Just got it on net and good things will happen when the puck is on goal.”
With one of the hardest, quickest shots in the Suburban East Conference, there is no reason why Corbett shouldn’t use his strongest asset.
He showed that it always doesn’t take the most accurate or fastest shot to get goals.
“I just try to get the puck near the net at all times,” Corbett said. “You never know, get a funny bounce off of one of your teammates or off a stick and it’s going to go in. Earlier I was trying to get the goals, get the points. I am just putting it on net however I can. I will look to see if I can get a clean one off and if nobody is in my way, I am going to fire it.”
More importantly, Corbett’s goal gave Stillwater a rare win against its biggest rivals that have continued to find ways to beat the Ponies.
“Unbelievable win,” Corbett said. “This gives us an opportunity to take the conference title. We just have to keep doing what we are doing and hope other teams beat these guys or tie them.”
It was not an easy win for the Ponies in a physical battle with the Bears. After the game, Alex Huth had a gash on his forehead that will most likely need stitches.
Bags of ice were brought into both locker rooms for sore shoulders and the White Bear Lake training staff had its hands full following the game.
“It was another great battle with a team we are familiar with,” Bears coach Tim Sager said. “This is what we expect when we play each other.”
White Bear Lake had its big players going, too. Mac Jansen scored twice, giving him 25 on the season and four against the Ponies this season.
Brandon Wahlin ripped a power play goal past Ponies goalie Blake Cates in the second period, but still couldn’t find a way to win.
“I think we dominated the game,” Sager said. “We just didn’t finish. The game could have been 6-2 or 7-2 after two periods, but our guys didn’t put it away. We missed a few breakaways and that was the difference.”
“They gave us a run for our money,” Corbett added. “We’ve had a tough time against them the last few years. Tonight we came out, played our hardest and got a couple of lucky bounces.”
Stillwater took the Bears best punch and survived until the final horn. The Ponies, despite being outshot in the game, scored late, timely goals in each period to seize momentum.
Along with Corbett’s game-winner, Nick Anderson scored on a stuff attempt with one minute, 53 seconds left in the first to give the Ponies a 2-1 lead after one. In the second, Brian Jungwirth buried a one-timer on the power play in the slot with 20 seconds left and a 3-2 Ponies lead after two.
“Those are just momentum builders,” Housley said. “It gets you excited when you are in the locker room and makes it easier to come out ready for the next period.”
Stillwater is on an eight game unbeaten streak with the win and were the only contending team to compete with White Bear Lake this season.
On Jan. 6, the Bears went to the St. Croix Valley Rec Center and took down the Ponies 5-1. That was the last loss for Stillwater.
“All of our lines are rolling well, so we are just going to keep that up,” Corbett said. “We have a nice streak going and we need to keep it going.”
“They’re a heck of a team with a lot of great players,” Housley said. “It was a battle and we knew that coming in. They were undefeated in our conference up until now and there’s a reason for that and it is because they are an excellence hockey team. It took everything we had to beat them and I’m proud of our team and I tip my cap to them. They played as hard as they could and deserved a win.”
2011 has been good to Stillwater and White Bear Lake.
Each have played 10 games in the new year and up until the meeting against one another on Feb. 5, the Bears did not have a loss.
Stillwater is on an nine game unbeaten streak, 8-1-1 in its last 10, and have pulled itself to within a point of the Suburban East Conference (SEC) lead.
It is clear that the Poines and Bears have established themselves as the SEC elite and it's only fitting that it happens to be between the conference's biggest rivals.
Hard hitting, after the whistle activity is the norm of this game. Both do not like each other and it almost spilled over outside the locker rooms after the game as players were exchanging unpleasant words, which may have escalated into more if coaches did not intervene.
Emotions may have spilled over because it has been a long time since the Ponies defeated White Bear Lake. More than two years to be even more precise.
Jan. 3, 2009 was the last time Stillwater was victorious against the Bears. It was a 2-1 win at the old home of White Bear Lake, Aldrich Arena.
Since, the two have played against each other five times, including three times in 2009-10, all Bears wins. One game was a 3-1 score in the Section 4AA semifinals.
Earlier this season when the Bears knocked around Stillwater in its own rink, it was the start of a trend for SEC contenders against White Bear Lake.
Whenever a team was about to challenge the Bears, it would fall and do so pretty hard.
Cretin-Derham Hall, part of the three-team conference champion from last season, were run out of the building by the Bears 7-1 Dec. 18. Aforementioned, Stillwater's loss 5-1 on Jan. 6.
Finally, the Ponies were able to stand up to the plate and deliver in crunch time.
Even if it doesn't win a conference title this season, Stillwater will have plenty to look forward to when the section playoffs begin and possible another matchup with the Bears.
"Who knows, we might see them down the road," Sager said.
The Ponies don't have a bona fide goal scorer like White Bear Lake does in Wahlin and Jansen. They have to work for their goals, a procedure that has done wonders of late.
“We found out a lot about ourselves,” Housley said. “You look at our stats and there isn’t one guy that has taken it over. That is a compliment to our team and how they play together and that needs to happen if we want to continue to win."
Now having its undefeated conference season out the window, it is back to business for the Bears.
Sager said he was not disappointed with the loss because of the way his team played. It had its chances to tie, maybe even take control of the game, but didn't capitalize on odd-man rushes or a Jansen breakaway in the third.
"It's a loss but we will be fine," Sager said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win, played hard and were good teammates to each other out there. That is all you can ask for and that is why I am proud of our effort. Stillwater has a good team over there, too. For us, we have Cretin next and we have to get ready for them."
Cody Corbett scored the game-winning goal with just one minute, 34 seconds left in the game to give Stillwater a 4-3 lead against White Bear Lake on Feb. 5.
Mac Jansen scored twice for the Bears, his 24th and 25th goals of the year, but it was not enough as the Ponies scored three of their goals in the final two minutes of each period.
Mike Kreutzfeldt, Nick Aderson and Brian Jungwirth were the other goal scorers for Stillwater. Brandon Wahlin also scored for the Bears as their main goal contributors continued to stay on course.
It was the first Ponies win against White Bear Lake since a 2-1 victory on Jan. 3, 2009.
With the win, Stillwater improves to 13-4-2 (11-2-2 SEC) and will host East Ridge on Feb. 8, which is coached by the Ponies former coach prior to Phil Housley, Doug Long.
White Bear Lake suffered its first conference loss of the season and are now 14-5-1 (12-1-1 SEC) on the season. It will travel to St. Paul to play Cretin-Derham Hall on Feb. 10.
1. Cody Corbett, Stillwater
Despite spending time in the penalty box in the second period for holding and tripping calls, he may have scored the biggest goal of the season when his wrist shot found the back of the net with just one minute, 34 seconds left in the game. He also had an assist on the Ponies first goal of the game.
2. Mac Jansen, White Bear Lake
For the second time this season, Jansen scored two goals against the Ponies. His offseason dedication to getting stronger helped him in the contest against the Ponies, because he had to establish position in front of the net. Jansen how has 25 goals on the season to lead the Bears this season.
3. Brandon Wahlin, White Bear Lake
It is not often that a losing team gets two stars, but Wahlin played good enough to be deserving of a star. He scored a power play goal on a slap shot to tie the game in the second. The senior also had numberous quality shots on net and literally did everything he could to tie the game in the closing minute.