St. Thomas Academy goaltender Tommy Aitken (30) stopped an Andover shot in the first period. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky • firstname.lastname@example.org
At one point this season, St. Thomas Academy was drowning in both losses and disbelief. A players’ meeting was held, a commitment to one another was forged and the seeds of one of the biggest upsets in recent state tournament history were planted.
“When we were 5-7 in February or January or whenever it was, we went over to one of the guys’ houses and talked everything out,” said goaltender Tommy Aitken, who made 33 saves — 15 in the third period — as the ringleader of the unseeded Cadets’ stunning 3-2 victory Thursday over No. 1 seed Andover (24-4-1). “We all just decided to buy in. I think that’s what changed everything around.”
Buy-in for the Cadets (19-8-2), the No. 5 seed in the Section 3 tournament and bearer of the most losses of any team entering the tournament, means five guys packing into the slot, all of them within a stick’s length or so from their goaltender. Buy-in means sacrificing to block a shot.
Second-period goals by Will Soderling and Jared Wright helped unseeded St. Thomas Academy rally from a one-goal deficit and secure the biggest upset of the state tournament so far, a 3-2 triumph over No. 1 seed Andover in a Class 2A quarterfinal on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Hunter Jones gave Andover a 2-1 lead 30 seconds into the second period, but the goals by Soderling and Wright put the Cadets in front for good.
St. Thomas Academy survived a third period played almost entirely in their end, requiring goaltender Tommy Aitken to make 15 of his 33 saves.
Andover’s Gunnar Thoreson and St. Thomas Academy’s Noah Rauschenberger traded first-period goals.
Andover goaltender Will Larson finished with 13 saves. The Huskies outshot the Cadets 35-16.
Ranked No. 1 in Class 2A for much of the season, Andover (24-4-1), making its first state tournament appearance, had won 15 consecutive games entering the tourney.
St. Thomas Academy (19-8-2), the No. 5 seed in the Section 3 tournament, had the most losses of any team entering the tournament.
Check back later for more on the game.