Blaine forward Carsen Richels (17) looked to take a shot on White Bear Lake goaltender Evan Foss (33) as White Bear Lake defenseman Cooper Anderson (16) went down to defend in the second period. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • firstname.lastname@example.org
Cole Hansen, once a promising youth player oozing with potential, finished his sophomore season on Blaine’s fourth line. His stats were meager, to put it gently. One goal and one assist.
“I went into the offseason thinking about that,” Hansen said. “I told myself that’s not going to happen again.”
Endless summer weightlifting and puck shooting sessions helped elevate Hansen’s game, and the junior forward’s rise to relevance reached a new level Thursday as he scored two goals and added an assist in No. 2 seed Blaine’s 4-2 triumph over unseeded White Bear Lake in the Class 2A quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center.
“It’s not a surprise to us,” said Blaine junior Carsen Richels of Hansen’s spectacular play. “He does it all the time in practice. He’s a goal scorer, and he’s earned them.”
Hansen and linemates Richels and Mr. Hockey award finalist Bryce Brodzinski scored all four Bengals goals. The fourth, a Richels shot off a Hansen feed through the slot, put Blaine (23-2-2) ahead 4-0 early in the second period.
Junior forward Cole Hansen scored twice and added an assist as No. 2 seed Blaine raced to an early four-goal lead, then hung on to defeat unseeded White Bear Lake 4-2 in Thursday’s opening Class 2A quarterfinal.
Mr. Hockey Award finalist Bryce Brodzinski of Blaine (23-2-2), the state’s scoring leader with 85 points, opened the scoring on a quick wrist shot, using a Bears defenseman as a screen, in the first period.
Then Hansen took over, scoring twice and setting up Carsen Richels’ second-period goal to put the No. 2-ranked Bengals ahead 4-0 early in the second period.
No. 7-ranked White Bear Lake (21-5-1) rallied in the second period behind goals from Grant Hofeld and Samuel Newpower. The Bears have lost all 19 of their state tournament quarterfinal appearances.
Blaine goaltender Joe Daninger made 27 stops. White Bear Lake’s Evan Foss had 26 saves.
Check back later for more on the game.