Jordan Moran made 31 saves as Prior Lake shut out Andover in the Schwan Cup Silver semifinals, 2-0. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen.
Just about every rush Andover had it would send one of its players crashing down the slot winding up and ready to unleash a shot on goal.
Each time Prior Lake goalie Jordan Moran was positioned and ready for the Huskies and each time he turned them away.
Moran stopped all 31 shots he faced in the Lakers 2-0 win against Andover on Thursday, Dec. 27 in the semifinals of the Schwan Cup Silver Division at the Scwan Super Rink in Blaine.
"Jordan was the most important part of the game," Lakers defenseman Austin Hill said. "We are so comfortable with him in net that we can just go out and play."
The Lakers may have played a little too loose at times, especially in the second period when Andover seemed to have an odd-man rush every other shift.
The Huskies continued to send players to the slot where they could put Moran under fire with quality scoring chances that were becoming too frequent the Lakers, who were trying to hold onto a 1-0 lead.
As those chances grew, less of them hit the net as Moran came out to challenge the Huskies making the task of finding any open net that much more difficult.
"I knew I could come out of the net more because we had great backcheckers all night and they were pressuring them to get the shots off right away," Moran said. "It made it easier to come out when you know they are thinking about our guys coming back to get them."
"He's already a big goalie and takes up enough net as it is," Lakers' coach Joe Pankratz said. "When he comes out a couple of feet past the crease there isn't much to shoot at."
In eight games this season Moran has accumulated impressive numbers.
His goals-against-average is a stingy 2.29 and a save-percentage of .922 is equally impressive.
The shutout against Andover is his second this season and after opening the season with three straight losses, Moran has been the one getting Prior Lake back on track.
"He has always been the one that we can count on in big games," Hill said. "This is a big win for our team. Advancing to championship game of this tournament is a big deal and Jordan was a reason why.
"We don't need to give him that much offensively because he can do a lot on his own."
Hill scored just 55 seconds into the first period, which beat Andover goalie Chase Perry, touted as one of the elite netminders in the state, on a wrist shot that found the upper corner.
Even though it was all Moran needed, he did not start to feel fully comfortable until Blake Busch's goal in the third period to extend the Lakers lead to two.
"It wasn't so much the first one as it was the second," Moran said. "When we got two, it was more relief because we could give up one and still be alright and that helps you play a lot better."
This is the first time Prior Lake has participated in the Schwan Cup and is playing in what is considered the second strongest division in the whole tournament.
Moran had a chance to display his talents not only to those who attended, but on television as well.
With all that, the one person he did impress was Andover coach Mark Manney.
"If he continues to play like that, they will be a tough team to beat come February and March," Manney said. "We had our chances and I thought we were at least going to get one in the second. He played a great game for them and you have to tip your cap to how he and Prior Lake played."
The past few seasons there has been progress made at Prior Lake.
Typically a one-and-done in the playoffs, the Lakers have been slowly moving deeper into Section 2AA play as well.
Another sign that Prior Lake is going in the right direction is advancing to the championship game of the Schwan Cup Silver Division.
It has never played in the Schwan Cup before, but it made a big splash in its 2-0 victory against Andover.
"Five years ago we just stunk," Pankratz said. "Now we are playing in a huge game for our program and it is something that we can be proud of because it shows how far we have come in a short period of time. I am just really happy for these guys."
Prior Lake beat Apple Valley 8-1 in the opening round before it defeated the Huskies in the semifinals.
it will play Lakeville South in the finals at Ridder Arena on Friday, Dec. 28 and the Lakers are finding the perks already of winning big games.
"I told them after the game that when you win you get better locker rooms," Pankratz said. "The first game we were in locker room No. 15. Today we were in No. 13 and it had a bathroom in it. Tomorrow, at Ridder I am sure it will even be a better."
For the players it not about the amenities of the locker room. There is hardware on the line that has been years in the making.
"We are happy about the win against a good Andover team, but we have to wake up and get ready to work again," Hill said. "Need to realize that there is a big game for our program and when we do, we should be fine."
Prior Lake's Jordan Moran made 31 saves for the shutout in the Lakers 2-0 win against Andover in the semifinals of the Schwan Cup Silver Division on Thursday, Dec. 27 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine.
Austin Hill scored just 55 seconds into the first period, his first of the season, and that was all the Lakers would need.
In the third period Blake Busch extended the lead for Prior Lake to two when he poked in a rebound by Huskies' goalie Chase Perry on the power play.
Perry made 30 saves for Andover.
With the win Prior Lake advances to the championship game of the Schwan Cup Silver Division which will be played on Friday, Dec. 28 at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
It will play the winner of the second semifinal between Centennial and Lakeville South.
Andover will play in the third place game in the Silver Division.
It will take on the the loser of Centennial and Lakeville South on Friday, Dec. 28 ath the Schwan Super Rink.
1. Jordan Moran, Prior Lake
Moran stopped all 31 shots he faced and several big ones in the second when Andover had an abundance of them in the second period when the Huskies had numerous odd man rushes. Along with his size, Moran did a fantastic job challenging shooters by coming out from the crease and cutting off angles.
2. Austin Hill, Prior Lake
Hill picked a good time to score his first goal of the season. Just 55 seconds into the first, he picked the upper right corner to beat Andover goalie Chase Perry. In a tight, defensive battle his goal proved to be the game-winner and propel the Lakers to the Schwan Cup Silver Division championship game.
3. Chase Perry, Andover
Equally as busy as his counterpart, Perry made 30 saves for Andover. He made a few highlight-reel saves, including one in the second period where he stretched all the way to his left to stop a backdoor one-timer.