Woodbury's Ryan Winter gets a shot on net with two North St. Paul defenders trying to contain him. Adam Crane, MN Hockey Hub
Woodbury’s Ryan Winter is a power forward. His size, strength and tenacity make him a beast in the offensive zone, especially below the dots.
Don’t believe it? Just ask North St. Paul.
Winter dominated the Polars, getting a goal and assist with several shots and some big hits.
Winter used his brute force to get the Royals on the board, firing a blast from the top of the circle that went through Polars’ goalie Eric Manteuffel, not around him.
Then with the game on the line in the third period, Winter pounded down the wall and into the corner, won a 1-on-1 battle and fed linemate Blake Kelley in the slot. Kelley finished, putting Woodbury up for good.
“I just try and keep the puck in my possession,” said Winter, who has three goals and eight points on the year. “I use the body to keep myself between the puck and the guy.”
With Winter and Woodbury advancing to play Section 3AA foe Eagan in the South St. Paul Premier tournament finals, he knows that his physicality and tough forechecking are going to be must-haves in the title game.
“We just have to be really focused before the game,” Winter said. “We have to go out there and hit them in the mouth.”
“They aren’t going to know what we’re coming at them with."
Woodbury's Blake Kelley scores the game-winner in the third period. Adam Crane, MN Hockey Hub
North St. Paul probably should have had a few more goals on the board in their game against Woodbury on Tuesday.
Royals goalie Josh Erickson just didn’t let that happen.
The senior netminder bounced back after giving up five goals on 21 shots against Hastings on Monday with a solid 18-save effort against the Polars.
“It was a good bounce back win for us, and for myself actually,” Erickson said. “Last night was a tough win. To shut them down after that first goal, it felt pretty good.”
Erickson played aggressively, parking himself at the top of the crease all night. Because of this, North St. Paul’s quality chances turned into routine saves for Erickson.
“I stay out of the net as much as I can, and I try to stay up when I can stay up,” Erickson said. “My role is to play better than the other goalie. If I do that, we win the game.”
Erickson will have to be on top of his game again tomorrow, as the Royals will battle the deep, dangerous Eagan Wildcats for the tournament crown. But much like his teammates, Erickson knows that there is more than just a South St. Paul tournament title on the line tomorrow against Eagan.
“It’s a marker of where we’re going to end up,” said Erickson of tomorrow’s game. “It’s also going to show where we need to be to get to the section final and get to state. I have to prepare like it’s a section final game.”
Woodbury’s Blake Kelley scored at 7 minutes, 56 seconds of the third period to break a 1-1 tie, helping the Royals advance to the finals of the South St. Paul Premier tournament with a 2-1 win over North St. Paul on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at Wakota Arena in South St. Paul.
Off a turnover at the offensive blue-line, the Royals got onside, flew back into the zone to pressure on the forecheck and eventually dug a puck out of the corner. Kelley took a pass in the slot, fought off a defender and slipped a puck under North St. Paul’s Eric Manteuffel to put Woodbury up for good.
Woodbury (6-3-2) will square off with No. 5-ranked Eagan for the tournament title tomorrow night at 8:15 p.m., making the finals an all-Section 3AA battle.
Ryan Winter had a goal and an assist for the Royals; Zach Wahlin and Nate Wareham each collected single assists.
Woodbury goalie Josh Erickson was stellar in the crease, stopping 18 shots. Although not the biggest goalie, Erickson played big between the pipes, cutting down angles with an aggressive style that thwarted all of North St. Paul’s attempts in the final 45 minutes.
Even though they ended up on top, it wasn’t a great start for Woodbury. An early penalty gave North St. Paul the game’s first man-advantage, and the Polars cashed in.
Mark Meister took a Tyler Oliver pass and batted home a power-play marker just six minutes in, giving North St. Paul a 1-0 lead.
However, the Royals didn’t need long to answer back.
Just 50 second after the Polars opened the scoring, Winter corralled the puck at center, skated over the blue-line and fired a hard shot from the top of the circles that found it’s way under Manteuffel’s arm and just barely over the line.
Woodbury controlled the pace of the contest, outshooting North St. Paul 33-19.
Mantueffel saw tons of rubber all night, but he made key save after key save to hold the Polars in it until the end.
North St. Paul (6-3-0) will play tomorrow at 6 p.m. against Anoka for third-place honors.
Winter used his size and strength all night, and it led to both of his points. In the opening minutes, he unleashed a tricky, powerful shot from high in the zone to get the Royals on the board. Then, with time running down in the final period, Winter used his body to create a turnover in the corner before he dished a perfect pass to Blake Kelley for the game-winner.
Although he will go down as the losing goalie in the contest, Manteuffel deserves more credit. He stopped 31 shots, consistently stifling the Royals. Mantueffel’s quickness and range turned aside numerous Woodbury backdoor chances, his recovery kept rebound looks out of the net and he was the reason North St. Paul was in the position to win late.
Even though he only saw limited shots, Erickson made timely stops to backstop the Royals into the finals. He saw a lot of shots through traffic, but his sound positioning helped him steer pucks away from trouble. Much like Manteuffel at the other end, Erickson was a huge player in the success of his squad.