Luke Dietsch scored four goals and added an assist in three Great 8 tournament games. Photo by Loren Nelson
The winning goal, which came off a rising shot from the slot, was Dietsch’s second of the game and fourth of the tournament. He scored 20 in 26 games for the Raiders during the high school season.
Section 3 defenseman Dominic Nitti, for one, could have predicted how the game would end. Especially when he saw the puck heading to an open Dietsch in front of the net. Another Cretin-Derham Hall standout, Nitti, a defenseman, has seen Dietsch do this sort of thing before. Many times.
“He actually scored a ton of big game-winning goals for us during the season,” Nitti said. “I think he had two or three overtime goals for us. He gets that puck in front of the net, and I’m already celebrating because I know he can score.
“He’s the best player I know around the net. Once he got that puck in the slot, I’m like, ‘It’s over, we win.’ ”
The conclusion was hardly preordained, although it seemed the Section 3 victory was secure when Dietsch intercepted a clearing pass by Section 7 goaltender Erikur Arnason of Greenway and scored midway through the third period. That goal put Section 3 ahead 3-1.
Section 7 stormed back to tie the game at 3, and went on the power play for the final minute of regulation when Section 3 was called for having too many men on the ice.
“It’s been that way all weekend,” Section 3 coach Chris Sikich, an Apple Valley assistant, about his team’s resolve. “In the first game we were down 2-0 after one and battled back. (Saturday) we were down 4-2 after two and scored four in the third.
“This is a good group of kids.”
Like most of the players in the tournament, the hockey futures of Dietsch and Nitti are in limbo. They both hope to catch on with a junior team, likely in the North American Hockey League, this summer.
It’s possible one or both of could be chosen to represent the Minnesota Seniors in the upcoming National Invitational Tournament featuring teams from Wisconsin, North Dakota, Michigan and Massachusets.
“I was just kind of glad I made this tournament, and now, I don’t know, playing in overtime, scoring that goal,” Dietsch said. “I had a nice pass out front. A lot of things went through my head because I knew it was coming.
“I was just thinking top glove, and luckily I hit it.”