Breck's defensive corps including Derek Wiitala (18) and Jorgen Salveson (28) kept the 'Hounds at bay throughout a 2-0 victory in the Schwan Cup Gold quarterfinals. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen.
A three-week hockey hiatus had Breck senior forward Thomas Lindstrom wondering about his timing and scoring touch.
Relief came on his second shift as Lindstrom scored the eventual game-winning goal in a 2-0 victory against Duluth East (Class 2A, No. 9) in the Schwan Cup Gold Division quarterfinals Wednesday night at Ridder Arena at the University of Minnesota.
An upper-body injury, coupled with a 15-day break between games in the Mustangs’ schedule, kept Lindstrom out of action for much of December. He gave Breck (Class 1A, No. 4) a lead just three minutes and 22 seconds into the first period.
“To get one on my second shift was a big confidence boost,” said Lindstrom, who scored 32 goals last season. “We knew we had to come out fast because Duluth East is such a good defensive team. That goal really got the momentum going in our favor.”
Mark Sharp extended Breck’s lead to 2-0 at 8:07 of the second period. Pressure by the Mustangs near the Duluth East net left goaltender Dylan Parker sprawled on the ice. Sharp navigated the scrum and flipped the puck over Parker for the goal.
The cushion was more than enough for Breck goaltender Henry Johnson, who stopped all 30 Greyhounds shots faced.
“Nobody really said anything to him after the second period,” said Lindstrom, who sat next to Johnson in the locker room but did not utter a syllable. “We just wanted to keep him in the zone. He went out there and stood on his head again in the third.”
Lindstrom said of Wednesday’s victory: “Our coach [Les Larson] told us this was the best team win we’ve had in awhile.”
Coming off what he called his team’s best game of the year, a 4-2 victory against Andover, Duluth East coach Mike Randolph said his players could not find a similar hungry mindset.
“We played against Andover with so much energy and urgency,” Randolph said. “There was no urgency or energy the whole game.
“It can be rectified,” Randolph said. “We’ve come down to many of these and laid an egg.”
-- David La Vaque, Star-Tribune staff writer
1. Henry Johnson, Breck
Johnson was methodical on his way to his first shutout of the young season, turning pucks away left and right while giving up almost no rebounds or second chances. In all, he turned away 30 shots, including 13 in the final period, to launch Breck into the semifinals.
2. Thomas Lindstrom, Breck
Lindstrom was Breck’s best player not named Henry Johnson. He scored the game’s first goal on a breakaway and created several other chances with his speed and size.
3. Jack O’Connor, Breck
The senior forward was responsible in all three zones on Wednesday night, allowing the Mustangs to shutdown the Hounds throughout the contest. O’Connor also made a perfect saucer pass to spring Lindstrom on the breakaway that resulted in the first goal of the night.
-- Zack Friedli, MN Hockey Hub staff