Blaine sophomore Michael Brodzinski (20) celebrates with as his older brother, Jonny Brodzinski, after Jonny scored the winning goal against Osseo in the third period. Photo by Helen Nelson
Blaime sophomore Michael Brodzinski was shifted from defense to forward for the first time this season and responded by scoring a first-period goal. Photo by Helen Nelson
Blaine coach Dave Aus wasn’t sure when Bengals sophomore Michael Brodzinski last played up as a forward.
“He had played maybe in Pee Wees a little bit,” Aus said.
The Section 5AA semifinals is a long way from Pee Wees. Yet there was Brodzinski, lining up next to his older brother, Jonny, on a forward line.
“He’s really poised and he’s really creative with the puck, and I like that,” Jonny Brodzinski, one of 10 finalists for the Mr. Hockey award, said about his “little” (Michael is 5-foot-11, 180 pounds) brother.
What’s not to like? Michael scored the Bengals’ first goal, and Jonny scored the winner in the third period as No. 2-seeded Blaine outlasted No. 3 Osseo 5-2 on Tuesday, March 1, at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum in St. Paul.
Blaine (19-4-4) advances to play No. 1 seed Maple Grove (22-3-2) at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 4, at the Coliseum.
Aus said he made the surprising position switch with Michael Brodzinski after watching Jonny, Blaine’s top scorer with 55 points, struggle against Coon Rapids in the Bengals’ 4-1 section quarterfinal victory.
Blaine senior Jonny Brodzinski, left, wasn't given much skating room by Osseo's Corbin Cole in the teams' Section 5AA semifinal matchup. Photo by Helen Nelson
“Coon Rapids put a guy on Jonny the other day,” Aus said. “They did a pretty good job of frustrating him. And tonight (Osseo) did again, and I knew they would.
“So I figured if we put Michael there that would put a little pressure on them. And we got two goals out of that line, so tonight it happened to work out.”
Michael, one of a dozen or so sophomores to make the cut for the eight-team Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League last fall, scored his goal in the first period after crashing the net.
Jonny notched the winner with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left in the third period while he, too, was driving hard to the net. No big surprise that the goals were scored in similar fashion, as the Brodzinskis’ playing styles are virtually identical.
“First time playing with him -- it’s nice,” the 6-foot, 190-pound Jonny said. “Me and him, we see the ice pretty much the same.”
For the better part of two periods, Osseo (17-10-0) limited Jonny’s effectiveness. Hounded by Orioles’ junior defenseman Corbin Cole at every turn, Jonny’s scoring chances were limited to mostly long-range shots.
“We were trying to prevent (Jonny) Brodzinski from touching the puck,” Osseo co-head coach Kevin Willey said. “(On the winning goal) I don’t know where we lost coverage with him, but he got past our D.
“We were shutting him down the rest of the game.”
Blaine defenseman Mike Cameron, right, sends Osseo's Alex Watkins flying after a first-period collision. Photo by Helen Nelson
Senior Jonny Brodzinski scored with 6 minutes, 38 seconds in the third period and senior Briggs Fussy added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds as No. 2-seeded Blaine slipped past No. 3 Osseo 4-2 on Tuesday, March 1, in a Section 5AA semifinal at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum in St. Paul.
Brodzinski’s goal came just 32 seconds after Osseo’s Casey Cardille scored to pull the Orioles (17-10-0) into a 2-2 tie.
Jonny Brodzinski, who is being recruited by Maine, St. Coud State and Mankato State, among other Division I programs, scored after charging the net and faking as though he was going to cut through the crease. Instead, Brodzinski put on the brakes and fired a quick shot that fooled Osseo senior goaltender Jared Mol, who had been brilliant most of the night while making 28 saves.
Michael Brodzinski, a sophomore who had played defense all season until Tuesday night, also scored for the Bengals. Michael Brodzinski played wing on a line with his brother, a center.
Junior Joey Vegel also scored for Blaine (19-4-4), which has won five straight section titles.
Senior Tim Bonner, Osseo’s all-time scoring leader, scored in the second period to tie the score at 1.
Junior Nick Malvin made 25 saves for Blaine.
1. Jonny Brodzinski, Blaine
The senior forward was hounded by Osseo’s Corbin Col3 for most of the night, but the mostly effective shutdown tactics couldn’t stop Brodzinski from scoring the winning goal in the third period on a rush to the goal. Brodzinski also added an assist.
2. Michael Brodzinski, Blaine
The sophomore brother of Jonny had played defense all season, and for most of his career, until Tuesday, when he was switched to forward in an attempt to add another dangerous offensive threat to Blaine’s top line. The strategy worked, as Michael scored a first-period goal and looked as though he had played up front all season.
3. Jared Mol, Osseo
The Orioles’ goaltender was aggressive when he needed to be, played his angles well and left precious few rebounds for the Bengals. Mol finished with 28 saves and was a big reason Osseo gave Blaine yet another toe-to-toe battle in a section semifinal.
Osseo senior goaltenderJared Mol. Photo by Helen Nelson