Breck's Wesley Iverson (26) scored two goals as the Mustangs rolled past St. Cloud Cathedral, 8-1 (Photos by Tim Kolehmainen).
Breck senior Wesley Iverson (26) reaches for a loose puck (Photo by Tim Kolehmainen).
Posted in the Breck home boys’ hockey locker room is a sign that simply states, “You get what you give.”
Breck senior Wesley Iverson certainly seems to take that statement to heart, but the powerful forward’s motto might need an edit, as he dishes out much more than he gets back. Iverson is widely known as one of the biggest hitters in the state. With a solid 6-foot-2 frame and powerful skating stride, opposing defensemen must look over their shoulders when he’s bearing down on the forecheck lest they stumble out of the corner with a few bumps and bruises -- and without the puck.
But Iverson is no mere meter of physical punishment. He can make opponents pay on the scoreboard just as easily.
St. Cloud Cathedral found that out Friday night in the semifinals of the Hilltoppers Thanksgiving Classic at Mars Lakeview Arena, as Iverson notched two goals and had a hand in three very different goals in the Mustangs’ 8-1 victory.
“The first period was kind of rough for me. I kind of had the jitters,” admitted Iverson after the game. Perhaps it came from playing on a line for the first time in a varsity game with his “little” brother Keegan Iverson and longtime linemate Conor Andrle.
“But once I threw that (shot) off the guy’s skate and it went in, I got my confidence up and we started rolling.”
Iverson’s first point – and Breck’s fourth of the night – was a pinball-type tally that came after he collided with Cathedral’s Austin Swingle in the corner. Swingle pulled up lame with a foot injury, while Iverson pinwheeled out of the check and sent the puck toward Keegan, who was camped in front of Cathedral goaltender Josh Robak.
The pass deflected off Keegan and past a surprised Robak for a 4-1 Breck lead.
“A goal is a goal. We’ll take it,” smiled Iverson, who led the Mustangs in goals last year with 30. “Garbage goals? We’re fine with anything that goes in the back of the net.”
Iverson’s first goal was a real back-breaker, as it came just 20 seconds after Thomas Lindstrom’s second goal and with only 7.1 seconds left in the second period, pushing Breck’s lead to 6-1. He snapped up a loose puck off a face off in the Cathedral zone and ripped a low shot from the slot past Robak.
Iverson finished off his scoring with a power play goal 4 minutes, 36 seconds into the third period with an assist to Andrle.
“We know where each other is all the time,” said Iverson of his relationship on the ice with both Andrle and his brother Keegan. “We can close our eyes and go out there and play.”
The Iverson-Iverson-Andrle line is just one of two very potent units for the Mustangs, who with terrific returning veterans were the unanimous No. 1 team in Class A in the Minnesota Hockey Hub’s preseason rankings. The Mustangs’ “second” line also came up with four goals – two each from Lindstrom and Grant Opperman.
“We came into this game trying to prove a point,” said Iverson. “We don’t really care what anyone else thinks. We just want to play like we know how to play.”
Kenney rises to challenge
Most observers knew about Breck’s offensive firepower this season, but most seemed to believe that the Mustangs’ Achilles heel would be its goaltending.
Not so fast, said senior Jack Kenney in an 8-1 season-opening victory over St. Cloud Cathedral. Kenney, who split time in nets last year, stopped 22 of 23 shots in what appeared to be an easy victory. But Mustangs’ coach Les Larson knew better.
“I thought Jack Kenney held up really well when the pressure was on,” said Larson, who praised Kenney in preseason scrimmages as one of his most improved players. “I told Cathedral coach (Eric Johnson) that they had us on the ropes in the second period and we got a couple of lucky bounces and we scored and momentum switched back,”
With Breck clinging to a 2-1 lead and Cathedral applying pressure, Kenney turned aside numerous chances, including a 2-on-0 when he stonewalled Daniel Johnston.
Staying on target
Breck came into the season as the consensus No. 1 team in the state and did nothing to dispel that Friday evening.
“I don’t know if we have a target on our back, but we’ll just try to get better as we go along,” said Larson, whose team will take on Duluth Marshall in the tournament championship at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Hilltoppers rolled over Providence Academy in the other semifinal, 11-1.
“We’ll have our hands full again,” said Larson. “That’s the nice thing about hockey. Everyone starts over and you have to put it together again.”
Breck's Jack O'Connor (17) looks for an open teammate.
Wesley Iverson scored two goals and an assist as No. 1 Breck opened its season with an 8-1 victory over St. Cloud Cathedral in the semifinals of the Duluth Marshall Thanksgiving Tournament Friday night at Mars Lakeview Arena.
The Mustangs broke open a tight game with four second-period goals and rolled into Saturday's final. Grant Opperman and Thomas Lindstrom each had two goals and an assist for Breck (1-0-0). Daniel Johnston tallied the lone goal for Cathedral (0-1-0) in the second period, briefly cutting Breck's lead to 2-1.
Jack Kenney made 22 saves in nets for the Mustangs, who face the winner of the Duluth Marshall-Providence Academy tilt in the tournament championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mars Lakeview Arena in Duluth.
1. Wesley Iverson, Breck
The rugged Iverson had two goals and an assist for Breck while playing on a line with Conor Andrle and his "little" brother Keegan Iverson. The trio looked like they'd played together for years, as they connected on numerous scoring chances. Iverson showed off his hard-checking and quick hands.
2. Jack Kenney, Breck
Coach Les Larson stated in the preseason that his goaltending was good this year and Kenney made him look good, stopping 22 of 23 shots. He was at his best early in the second period with Breck clinging to a 2-1 lead, including making a toe save on a 2-on-0 that looked like a sure goal.
3. Grant Opperman, Breck
Opperman got the Mustangs off and running with a first period goal and an assist. He finished with two goals and an assist, also scoring in the second period.