Blake forward Joe Miller celebrated a goal in the first period against Maple Grove. He finished the game with a hat trick. Photo: LEILA NAVIDI • email@example.com
Maple Grove boys’ hockey coach Todd Bergland said after his team’s 7-5 loss to Blake, during which the teams were tied on four different occasions, “18,000 people got to see a heck of a hockey game.”
What referees saw on a late slashing penalty left Bergland perplexed. Senior forward Benjamin Leafblad got whistled with less than four minutes to play in a game tied 5-5. Blake’s Will Svenddal’s power-play goal broke the deadlock.
“It was a hard way to go out,” sophomore forward Joshua Giuliani said. “We battled all game and I thought we were the better team. They got some lucky calls that I thought were not very good.”
Giuliani’s second goal of the game tied the game 5-5. Earlier in the third period, Blake scored shorthanded on a 2-on-0 rush. Gavin Best, who scored on a penalty shot to win the Section 6 title game in overtime, passed to Joe Miller for a 4-3 Bears’ lead.
“I love that,” Blake coach Rob McClanahan said. “It’s not just fun to watch, it’s fun for the guys that are doing it.”
It wasn’t easy, but Blake outlasted Maple Grove for a 7-5 victory in a wild Class 2A quarterfinal game Thursday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Will Svenddal’s power-play goal put No. 2 seed Blake (23-6) ahead 6-5 with 2:14 to play. Maple Grove (20-9) made a late charge with two goals in the third period but came up short.
Maple Grove defeated Blake 5-4 in overtime in the teams' regular-season finale.
Maple Grove started the rematch holding brief one-goal leads thanks to Joshua Giuliani and Grant Zick. But standout Blake forward Joe Miller answered each time and the teams were tied 2-2 after the first period.
Jack Sabre put the Bears ahead for the first time with a goal at 9:35 of the second period. This time Maple Grove drew even on a rebound goal from Sam Jacobs early in the third period.
A penalty on Blake appeared to provide the Crimson an opportunity. Instead, Gavin Best and Miller got a 2-on-0 breakaway. Best, who scored on a penalty shot in overtime of the Section 6 championship game, passed to Miller, who scored for a hat trick and a 4-3 Bears’ lead.
A Sabre wrap-around goal scored a little more than two minutes later bumped the lead to 5-3 at 7:50 of the third period.
Back came Maple Grove, first on a power-play goal tipped in by Tyler Oakland. And next on a Giuliani shot a little more than one minute later to tie the game 5-5.
Check back later for more on the game.