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In the line of fire

By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor, 02/21/12, 12:35PM CST


Greenway goaltender Erikur Arnason's 73-save performance one of greatest in state history

Greenway senior goaltender Erikur Arnason owns what is believed to be the record for most saves in a regulation time (51 minutes) victory with 73. Photo by Howie Hanson

Erikur Arnason’s performance was so mind-boggling that Virginia coach Reed Larson wouldn’t have been out of line to ask the referees to perform an equipment check on Greenway’s senior goaltender.

With all his bulky gear, it would have been easy for Arnason to stuff an unauthorized good-luck charm inside a portion of his padding.

“He had a horseshoe, I’ll tell you what,” Larson said, grasping for an explanation as to how his Blue Devils suffered a 4-2 loss to the Raiders in a Feb. 11 game in which they fired a stunning 75 shots on goal.

Arnason’s 73-save gem is believed to be a state – and possibly national – record for the most saves recorded by a winning high school goaltender in a non-overtime game.

Erikur Arnason

“I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life,” Larson said. “I’ve been involved in games where a team had 50 or 60 shots, but the team that shot them shot half of them in the goalie’s chest. These were 73 opportunities to win the game.”

“I didn’t know what to tell our players after the game.”

The boys’ hockey records portion of the Minnesota State High School League’s Web site lists International Falls’ Brady Hjelle as having the most stops in a regulation game with 74 in a 2006 matchup against Cloquet/Esko/Carlton. The Lumberjacks beat Hjelle and the Broncos 4-1.

Becker/Big Lake’s Alex Darsow made what is believed to be a state and national record 102 saves a year ago in a 4-3 triple-overtime section playoff loss to River Lakes. That game lasted 81 minutes, 14 seconds of elapsed time.

Arnason’s 73 saves came in a regulation 51 minutes.

“I was feeling good,” said Arnason, who stopped a penalty shot by Virginia star Blair Seitz in the third period. “Shots kept coming, and I was seeing them all the way. I got lucky when one shot the hit the pipe.

“If my rebound control had been where it should be, I wouldn’t have faced 70 shots.”

Greenway coach Jim Lawson, a former Raiders standout who played professionally in the East Coast Hockey League, described Arnason’s performance much the same as Larson.

“I’m 51 years old and been involved in hockey all my life, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lawson said about Arnason’s incredible night. “One thing I knew going into this season was that my best player was my goalie. He was on fire. When he’s on, he’s on.

“If you saw the game and knew what to look for, you could see there were times when he was just toying with them.”

Arnason, one of nine Minnesota high school goaltenders selected to play in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League last fall, concluded the regular season with a .896 save percentage and 3.93 save percentage. He started all but two of the Raiders’ games, posting an 11-11-0 record.

Arnason made 22 saves in the first period, 29 in the second and 24 in the third in the Raiders’ victory over the Blue Devils. Seitz scored the lone goal of the first period and Virginia’s Tyler Goodrie scored 29 seconds into the third to give the Blue Devils a short-lived 2-1 lead.

“It was straight to bed after that one,” said Arnason, who has been approached by several junior coaches but is unsure where he will play next season.

Greenway (11-14-0) was seeded No. 6 in the 10-team section playoffs and travels to No. 3 International Falls (15-10-0) for a 7:30 p.m. quarterfinal matchup on Thursday, Feb. 23.

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