Peter Krieger has soared to the highest of highs. He’s plummeted to the lowest of lows.
In his fourth season playing high-level hockey for St. Thomas Academy’s varsity, Krieger has pretty much seen and done it all.
He is as close to a grizzled veteran -- minus the battle scars, snaggled teeth and grey-flecked beard -- as you are going to find in a high schooler.
Krieger is well aware of the Cadets’ playoff history with Mahtomedi, a team that knocked heavily favored St. Thomas Academy out of the section playoffs in 2009 and again in 2010.
“I was on both of those teams where we lost (to the Zephyrs),” said Krieger, a senior center. “Knowing what it felt like, how it felt to lose those games, made you work that much harder.”
The Cadets routed Mahtomedi in the Section 4A semifinals on their way to the state Class 1A championship last season. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the teams met yet again in the section playoffs this season.
“The road through the playoffs will definitely go through them,” Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschel said after the No. 2-ranked Cadets beat the No. 7 Zephyrs 5-3 on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the St. Croix Recreation Center in Stillwater. “So these are important games.
“Part of it is seeding and part of it is getting to know your opponent and what they do and what their tendencies are.”
Mahtomedi learned plenty about the play of Krieger, who scored twice in the Cadets’ victory. Just as impressive as Krieger’s goals was his mastery in the face off circle. Krieger and junior Henry Hart were dominant in winning draws, allowing St. Thomas Academy to spend much of the game deep in the Mahtomedi defensive zone.
“That’s a big part of the game,” Krieger said about his face-off success. “If you lose a lot of face-offs, it’s like negative momentum. Winning face-offs is a big part of the game.”
Spoken like a true veteran.
Oddly, though, Krieger’s goal that gave St. Thomas Academy its comfortable 5-3 cushion in the second period (the goal came less than a minute after Mahtomedi made it 4-3) was set up by a face off win by linemate Andrew Commers.
Also an accomplished face-off man, Commers won the draw back to Krieger who wasted little time in firing a shot that beat Mahtomedi goaltender Sawyer Marshall.
“We have a play set up,” Krieger said. “Andrew was the center, and he had a nice draw. A nice face-off win back to me, and then I pick it up and come across and shoot.”
Krieger, no doubt, has the ability to start and finish plays. There’s no better start than winning a face-off.
“Krieger is excellent,” St. Thomas Academy co-head coach Tom Vanelli said. “You can create a lot of scoring chances off face-offs.”