Offense seems to be the theme this week, and in a duel of teams fighting for early results in a competitive Metro East Conference, Mahtomedi's high-octane offense looks to knock off a St. Thomas Academy team that's stumbled recently.
St. Thomas Academy, which spent weeks ranked in the top 10 of the Class 2A coaches' poll, recently finished a stretch of three games against teams with offenses scoring in the top 16 in the state. The Cadets went 1-2 in those matchups — losing 6-2 on Dec. 20 at Hill-Murray (16th, 4.82 goals per game), winning 4-3 on Dec. 27 against Stillwater (ninth, 5.33) and falling 6-2 to Edina (eighth, 5.36) on Dec. 28. The gauntlet continues against Mahtomedi’s fourth-best 5.60 goals-per-game.
Neither Mahtomedi (9-1, 2-1) nor St. Thomas Academy (7-3-1, 0-1) have been very busy in Metro East play yet, and this early test could be key in keeping up with Hill-Murray (8-2-1, 5-0), Hastings (8-2, 5-1) and Tartan (6-3, 3-1) atop the standings, making this clash our Top Game of the Week.
Mahtomedi’s production comes thanks to a bevy of No. 3-1A Zephyrs contributing. Entering the week, eight players have at least 11 points. Kory Pilarski (5-12-17) is tied for the lead in points, while Colin Hagstrom (11-6-17), leads in goals. Seven other skaters have at least four goals.
St. Thomas Academy will likely find it tough to score against Mahtomedi. Zephyr goaltenders Ben Dardis and John Poirer each have save percentages north of .900 and have allowed a combined 14 goals in 10 games, to go with four total shutouts.
But if the Cadets can get on the board, and keep it close, they'll have a shot. St. Thomas Academy has succeeded in close games — winning three by two or fewer goals, plus tying No. 6-2A Eden Prairie 2-2 on Dec. 4.
Look to Rob Christy (6-7-13) and Luke Herzog (4-6-10), who lead the Cadets in scoring, to lead the attack. Goaltender Muzzy Donohue is 5-3-1 in nine starts, with a 2.72 goals-against average and .903 save percentage — even though he’s facing an average of 27.4 shots per game.
The teams will face off again on Feb. 5, but the Metro East seems to offer little respite this season as five teams feature overall winning records. Points might not be easy to come by, so this meeting carries a lot of weight.