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Burst of three goals in the second period propels Mahtomedi into the semifinals

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune, 03/09/22, 4:30PM CST

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Mankato East/Loyola hung on tight until the Zephyrs found their scoring touch.


The first-period competition was physical when Mahtomedi and Mankato East/Loyola got going Wednesday. Photos by BRIAN PETERSON, Star Tribune

In hockey, giving up a goal in the first or final minute of a period is a no-no, which means scoring one in those moments isn’t easy.

Mahtomedi essentially got one of each in the second period against Mankato East/Loyola, goals that fueled a 4-1 quarterfinal victory.

“It’s a huge boost,” Zephyrs coach Jeff Poeschl said. “It’s rare to get one early and late in the same period.”

Carter Haycraft scored 1:10 into the period, and Poeschl said he “could feel a little tension leave the bench.” Nick Beiersdorf doubled the lead for No. 3 seed Mahtomedi (17-11-1) midway through the period.

A third goal, this one by Cavanaugh Bruner with just 7.8 seconds remaining, was one Poeschl called “quite a dagger.”

Mankato East/Loyola (17-11-1) needed time to let the sting wear off.

“It took us a minute to get over that in the third period,” Cougars coach Adam Fries said. “But I was proud with the way we battled back to give ourselves a chance.”

Mankato East/Loyola received a tremendous toe save from goalie Caelin Brueske in the first period. His teammates finally generated offense to support him in the third period.

Aiden Prochaska raised his team’s spirits by blasting a power-play goal past Mahtomedi’s Ben Dardis, one of three Frank Brimsek Award finalists for the state’s top senior goalie.

“That gave us a little bit of life,” Fries said, especially because Prochaska’s shot bested “a goalie who generally doesn’t get beat on the first shot.”

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