Jack Perbix, left, a junior from Elk River, scored three goals for Team Minnesota Red on Sunday. Photo by Loren Nelson
Team Minnesota Red goaltender Jackson Hjelle stopped 42 of 43 shots in Sunday's 5-1 win over Shattuck-St. Mary's. Photo by Loren Nelson
Ben Brinkman scored the most controversial, improbable, unimaginable goal you’ll ever see.
Jack Perbix and Demtrious Koumontzis were the on-ice equivalent of Simon and Garfunkel, Butch and Sundance, Gilligan and the Skipper.
Jackson Hjelle stopped 61 of 63 shots in two games, all the while looking as though he were casually swatting aside beachballs and not being pelted by biscuit-sized bits of high-speed rubber.
For coach Tadd Tuomie, selecting a Most Valuable Player from Team Minnesota Red’s run to the championship of the International Invitational Tournament was like being forced to name a favorite child or choose between steak or lobster.
“I could probably name five MVPs from our team,” Tuomie said after Minnesota Red beat Shattuck-St. Mary’s 5-1 in Sunday’s championship game at New Hope Arena.
Hjelle, the goalie from Delano who already had won regular season and playoff championships this fall in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League while starring for Team Southwest, summed up the MVP dilemma best by saying, “That’s a tough one, everybody did their job.”
Still, when pressed, Hjelle said he would choose Brinkman. But of course. A good defenseman is a goalie’s best friend. Especially when that defenseman scores a goal as time expires in overtime to vault his team into the championship game. Brinkman, a junior from Edina, finished with two goals, two assists and handful of bone-crunching hits, but it was his goal that beat Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) on Saturday that still had his teammates buzzing a day later.
“That was unbelievable, that play by Brinkman,” Perbix, an Elk River junior said. “I still don’t know if it got in in time. It was unbelievable. I don’t even have words to describe it.”
That goal, Perbix said, provided a confidence-boost heading into Sunday’s title game. Perbix scored three goals (one in each period) in the championship game. Koumontzis, an Edina senior and the Elite League’s regular season leading scorer, assisted on all three Perbix goals. The two were thrown onto the same forward line during Saturday’s win over the Red Bulls, and they showed instant chemistry by scoring a clutch goal.
“Those are the kind of players that can make any coach look good,” Tuomie said.
Perbix said his nod for MVP would go to Minnesota Red’s goaltender, adding that there’s a heated rivalry between any collection of Minnesota players and Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
“No Minnesota kid, unless you go to Shattuck and you’re from Minnesota, likes Shattuck,” Perbix said. “Beating them 5-1 was the best thing.”