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Commers carries Cadets

By Justin Magill, MN Hockey Hub staff, 03/02/12, 9:25AM CST


Senior scores in OT as defending Class 1A champ St. Thomas Academy beats Totino-Grace

St. Thomas Academy players and fans celebrate Andrew Commers game-winning overtime goal in teh Section 4A championship game on Friday, March 2 at Aldrich Arena. Photo by Adam Crane

St. Thomas Academy forward Andrew Commers (21) celebrates his overtime goal, which gave the Cadets a 2-1 victory over Totino-Grace in the Section 4A championship game on Friday, March 2 at Aldrich Arena. Photo by Adam Crane

St. Thomas Academy players take a moment to reflect on its Section 4A championship game, which the Cadets won 2-1 in overtime on Friday, March 2 at Aldrich Arena. Photo by Adam Crane

Throughout the Section 4A final St. Thomas Academy forward Andrew Commers had his fair share of chances to put away No. 2-seeded Totino-Grace.

Commers had opportunities right in front of the net and open looks from the slot.

Yet he was unable to find the back of the net and the top-seeded Cadets found themselves in a battle to earn a second consecutive berth to the Class A state tournament and defend the 2011 title.

However, when St. Thomas Academy needed its senior captain the most he delivered in overtime, scoring his 21st goal of the season to beat Totino-Grace 2-1 for the Section 4A championship.

"I can barely describe the feeling right now," Commers said. "It's an amazing feeling to be going back there (St. Paul) to defend our title."

Despite seeing prior chances not go in his favor, Commers was relentless on the offensive attack.

He continued to unleash shots on Eagles goalie Rory Davidowski, who made 30 saves. 

Commers did not try to change his approach or adjust his style of play because the end results were not coming.

Determination and sheer will allowed him the opportunity to be in position to garner the hero honors for the Cadets.

"He is one of the hardest worker players you will see," Cadets coach Greg Vannelli said. "Chances are created because of the work he does for us and he was great again for us."

For Eagles coach Mark Loahr the performance by Commers performance is something he has seen before.

"He has been there and done that," Loahr said. "Commers was part of their state championship team last year and has scored big goals for them this season."

In St. Thomas Academy's 1-0 win over the Eagles back on Jan. 31, it was Commers who scored the lone goal.

"When the games are close, he continues to make big plays for us," Vannelli said. "We really aren't surprised about what he does anymore, because we are so used to his hard work and the points he puts up."

Still, Commers was snake-bitten through three periods and even had a chance to end the game earlier in overtime, when he took a pass from Tom Novak and his shot just slid wide of the net.

"I just give their goalie (Davidowski) a lot of credit, because he was great for them," Commers said. "I had chances, we had chances, but he played great for them."

Finally, 1 minute, 57 seconds into overtime, Commers wrist shot from the slot, was able to sneak just inside the right post, hitting the inside part of it and into the back of the net, sent the Cadets and their student section into euphoria.

"It was just an unbelievable feeling," Cadets goalie David Zevnik said. "When I saw that the shot went in, the thought of going to state again was unreal."

After the 2009 and 2010 seasons where St. Thomas Academy was upset in the section finals, it will be heading to St. Paul for the second straight season and possibly its fourth Class A title in seven seasons.

"Winning never gets old, especially ones like this where you big-time players step up like this," Vannelli said. "Just really happy for Andrew and our team."

Totino-Grace goalie Rory Davidowski watches the puck go by him and into the net in the first overtime period of the Section 4A championship game on Friday, March 2 at Aldrich Arena. The puck was shot by St. Thomas Academy's Andrew Commers. Photo by Adam C

Goalie Battle

St. Thomas Academy and Totino-Grace have met twice this season and both have combined to score a grand total of four goals.

Notably known for their highly skilled players that can score at will, the Cadets and Eagles had other players that ended up impacting the outcome of the Section 4A playoffs.

Quality chances were at its finest on Friday, March 2 at Aldrich Arena, but the goaltending was up to the task on both ends as St. Thomas Academy's David Zevnik and Totino-Grace's Rory Davidowski put on a show of brilliance in the crease.

Never were they out of position or unable to make the saves they are supposed to.

In order to beat the two, shots were going to have to be nearly perfect.

"Both goalies did a fabulous job," Cadets coach Greg Vannelli said. " Dave (Zevnik) has been great for us all year, but give credit to theirs, because he was really good tonight, too."

Each made 30 saves for the game and did not allow the easy goal to go by.

Zevnik allowed a first period goal when Totino-Grace's Carter Roo took a pass from his brother TJ Roo, who got the puck after it hit off the end board on a shot from the left circle.

Unable to get back and set properly, Zevnik could not make the stop on Carter Roo's shot.

Davidowski allowed a goal in the second period, when the Cadets crashed the net while on the power play and eventually found the puck behind him, which somehow eluded the traffic in front of him.

On Andrew Commers overtime goal, Commers fired off a quick, hard wrist shot and may have used the Eagles defenseman as a possible screen to use against Davidowski.

"Rory (Davidowski) played a really good game for us," Eagles coach Mark Loahr said. "I couldn't be more happier with the way he played.

"Zevnik on there end was really good, too"

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Game Recap

St. Thomas Academy's Andrew Commers overtime goal gives the top-seeded Cadets a 2-1 victory over No. 2-seed Totino-Grace in the Section 4A championship game on Friday, March 2 at Aldrich Arena.

With the win, the Cadets will have a chance to defend their state title from a year ago.

In the overtime period, Commers took the puck at the blue line and fired a wrist shot that hit the right post and in, beating Eagles' goalie, Rory Davidowski.

Totino-Grace had a 1-0 lead after the first period, when freshman Carter Roo found the puck on his stick in the slot.

His wrist shot was able to beat Cadets' goalie, David Zevnik.

St. Thomas Academy did not get on the board until midway through the second, when Tom Novak was able to poke a power play goal in to tie the game.

The third period was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams getting numerous chances to break the 1-1 tie.

It remained tied and went into the first overtime, where Commers was able to send the Cadets to St. Paul just 1 minute, 57 seconds in.

St. Thomas Academy will play in the Class A state quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 7 at the Xcel Energy Center.

Totino-Grace will have its season end once again in the Section 4A championship game to the Cadets.

The Eagles will finish the season with an 18-10-0 record.

1. Andrew Commers, St. Thomas Academy
Try and try again. That is what Commers did in the Section 2A title game and it finally worked in overtime. His wrist shot near the top of the right face-off circle was able to beat Totino-Grace goalie, Rory Davidowski and send the Cadets to the Class A state tournament to defend their crown. Commers had an abundance of chances, but he was not deterred by Davidowski turning him away. He kept battling and was a force on the ice all night long.

2. David Zevnik, St. Thomas Academy
The junior will be making his second trip to state as the Cadets starting goalie and he had a large part of putting St. Thomas Academy in this years tournament. In the Section 2A title game, he made 29 saves and was once again, his cool, calm and collective self, in a tight battle with Totino-Grace. He controlled his rebounds well and was able to make big saves when the Eagles came hard.

3. Rory Davidowski, Totino-Grace
If Davidowski has anything else but his A-game, the Eagles do not make it to overtime. Having to face the Cadets top line on a regular basis, Davidowski was a thorn in the side of players like Andrew Commers, Peter Krieger and Tom Novak. He made 30 saves for the Eagles and was a reason why they had a chance to advance to the Class A state tournament.

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