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Testing their skills

02/11/2011, 11:04pm CST
By David La Vaque, Star Tribune

Hockey Day 2011 kicks off with exciting skills competition


From left: Hill Murray, Wayzata and Moorhead players watched the slap shot contest during the skill competiton, part of the 2011 Minnesota Hockey Day events in Moorhead. Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

A four hour bus ride to Moorhead, followed by a tasty but filling spaghetti dinner put on by the Hockey Day Minnesota host Spuds left the visitors from Hill-Murray and Wayzata less than thrilled to participate in Friday evening’s skills competition.

But the vibe changed once Pioneers and Trojans players joined the host Spuds on the ice. Players enjoyed competing in one of five categories: acceleration, top speed, stick handling, hardest shot and shootout. Times and speeds were announced to the crowd, and players cheered and teased each other for impressive performances and colorful failures.

Players from Moorhead took top honors in three events: acceleration (Nic Oxton), top speed (Ben Doda) and shootout (Logan Ness). Hill-Murray players won the other two events: Jake Guentzel (stick handling) and Travis Wood (hardest shot).

Asked earlier in the day which of his players had a chance to win an event, Pioneers coach Bill Lechner predicted Wood had an opportunity in the hardest shot competition. Wood, a freshman defenseman, did not disappoint. His first shot was clocked at 83 mph and tied the previous high mark. His second shot went 86 mph and held up as the winner. Wayzata senior Tony Cameranesi, a Mr. Hockey finalist, posted speeds of 83 and 85 mph. Walking out of the arena, he jokingly told coach Carl Davis that if he used a stiffer stick, it might have given his shot enough added speed to win.

Wayzata’s other near-miss came from Tyler Klein in the shootout competition. He ultimately placed second to Ness from Moorhead because Klein only scored once – but Klein’s spin move, followed by a backhand flip over Hill-Murray goaltender John Dugas’s glove was the goal that drew the most audible praise from spectators.

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