skip navigation

Pioneers find a way to win

02/12/2011, 8:45pm CST
By Tim Kolehmainen, Breakdown Sports USA

Hill-Murray sloshes past Moorhead in Hockey Day Minnesota warmth, 3-2

Hill-Murray's JD Cotroneo and Moorhead's Nick Oxton collide at mid-ice Saturday (Photos by Tim Kolehmainen).

Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner

His message was simple. No excuses allowed.

Midway through the third period of his team’s Hockey Day Minnesota game against host Moorhead Saturday afternoon, Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner turned to his players with just one piece of advice.

“Find a way, boys. Find a way.”

Senior Ben Bahe delivered on Lechner’s message.

Hill-Murray’s captain corralled a bouncing puck and snapped a shot through Moorhead goalie Michael Bitzer with just 5:01 remaining to send the No. 1 AA Pioneers (19-3-1) to a 3-2 victory over the Spuds (14-7-2).

“Good teams find a way to win,” said Hill-Murray goaltender Tim Shaughnessy, who had 17 saves on 19 shots. “We had to find a way to prove that we’re a good team.”

The goal put the finishing touches on a sodden game that was perhaps more remarkable for the ice conditions than for the level of play.

As the game progressed, both blue lines became sunken strips of slush that tripped up onrushing forwards and retreating defensemen. The north goal was shifted six feet closer to the blue line because the crease disappeared beneath Minnesota’s unofficial 10,001st lake, which extended into both corners. Muck and grind took on an entirely literal meaning.

Between the second and third periods, Lechner told his disbelieving team to forget everything he had been teaching them over the past three months. No cycling, no neutral zone traps, no pretty passing plays.

“You get the puck in your own zone, throw it out,” Lechner recalled the highlights of his lecture. “Throw it at the net and crash. Get an ugly goal.”

Moorhead coach Dave Morinville agreed. “You’re not going to be going tick-tack-toe on your breakouts. It’s just get it and ram it and hopefully get some rebounds.”

Bahe’s game winner came on a play exactly as both coaches described. The Spuds were unable to enter the offensive zone, as the puck skipped and hopped its way through the slush along the boards. Bahe found a way to snare it, then pounded it into the net.

It was Hill-Murray’s third one-goal lead of the game, but this time it stood up.

J.D. Cotroneo and Bobby Bruski each scored for the Pioneers, while Eric Brenk and Bryant Christian netted goals for the Spuds. Bitzer finished with 26 saves on 29 shots, as Hill-Murray held a 29-19 shot advantage.

When the game ended, the players milled around on the battered ice, trading war stories. No one seemed interested in continuing the game, but weren’t yet ready to leave the spotlight of Hockey Day Minnesota.

“You’re just going to remember this one forever,” said Shaughnessy. “There are other games that are great games, but you’re not going to remember the details. This game, I’m going to remember everything that happened.”

Hill-Murray's Tim Shaughnessy

Three Stars

1. Ben Bahe, Hill-Murray
The senior forward -- and Pioneers' leading scorer -- found a way to get it done on a sloppy and pitted outdoor rink, scoring the game-winner with just 5:01 remaining in the third period to beat host Moorhead, 3-2.  Bahe leads the Pioneers in scoring with 46 points and was named a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Hockey award earlier this week.

T2. Tim Shaugnessy, Hill-Murray
Shaugnessy and his counterpart in the Moorhead net, Michael Bitzer, share the second star for battling both the sun and a torn up crease that became Minnesota's unofficial 10,001st lake midway through the first period.  Shaugnessy, who sported sunglasses under this mask for part of the first period, finished with 17 saves on 19 shots.

T2. Michael Bitzer, Moorhead
Bitzer saw a bit more action in the Spuds' net, making 26 saves on 29 shots.  He went with eye black instead of sunglasses to help alleviate the sun's glare off the ice, but made his own fashion statement with a blaze orange stocking cap over his helmet.

Statistics, Summary

Moorhead's Michael Bitzer

Last Year's Game

How They've Fared

Scoring Leaders

Spotlight Game Coverage

Micah Miller leaps to the fans after scoring the game winner.

Recent Stories

  • The best of times

  • 09/01/2011, 12:00pm CDT , By Loren Nelson, Editor
  • Bloomington Jefferson's Nick Checco earns spot in Top 100 for his do-it-all role with Jags
  • Read More
  • 3
  • Ultra wheels

  • 11/20/2011, 10:03am CST , By Loren Nelson, Editor
  • Silky stride took South St. Paul Top 100 pick Phil Housley to two state tournaments, NHL stardom
  • Read More 3
  • 27
  • Simply the best

  • 11/22/2011, 10:15am CST , By Loren Nelson, Editor
  • Eveleth's John Mayasich, No. 1 on the Top 100 list, never lost game in four high school seasons
  •
  • 3
  • Mister Hockey

  • 10/02/2011, 9:53am CDT , By Loren Nelson, Editor
  • Paul Johnson's do-it-all presence made Breck a league champion, earns him spot in Top 100
  • Read More 3

Q and A Archive

  • 1
  • Mean streak

  • 12/11/2012, 8:45am CST , By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
  • Hermantown's Neal Pionk plays a throwback style complete with high degree of 'nasty'
  • Read More 1
  • Quick Q&A: Jake Hill survived the seniors' greeting

  • 12/06/2012, 12:22am CST , By Star Tribune
  • South St. Paul hockey defenseman Jake Hill enjoys the holiday season. The senior, who also plays football and baseball, likes it even more once there is snow on the ground. Here is a closer look at Hill:
  • Read More
  • A man for all seasons

  • 11/14/2012, 2:00pm CST , By Tim Kolehmainen, Breakdown Sports USA
  • Guidebook sneak peek: Q and A with multisport Hill-Murray standout Zach LaValle
  • Read More
  • Crusader on the climb

  • 08/27/2012, 12:38pm CDT , By Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff
  • Q and A with St. Cloud Cathedral, Team Great Plains forward Austin Poganski
  • Read More
  • 1
  • Rise of the Skipper

  • 07/25/2012, 3:40pm CDT , By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
  • Q and A with Minnetonka defenseman Tommy Vannelli, who is in the midst of a superb summer
  • Read More 1
  • The Big Labosky

  • 07/04/2012, 6:49pm CDT , By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
  • Q & A with fast, feisty Benilde-St. Margaret's forward Dan Labosky
  • Read More

'Overtime' Archives

  • Cats claw to victory

  • 12/16/2011, 11:59am CST , By Pete Waggoner, OTSN contributor
  • Eagan impresses in 10-1 over Lakeville North; Edina Holiday Classic report
  • Read More
  • 'Overtime' heroics

  • 12/14/2011, 11:59am CST , By Pete Waggoner, OTSN contributor
  • Tim Mueller's goal in extra period lifts Prior Lake over Wayzata
  • Read More

Tag(s): Home  All Articles  The Breakdown  News Archive  Spotlight Games  Classic Suburban  Hill-Murray  Mariucci  Moorhead