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Rise to glory

By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor, 01/05/13, 10:00PM CST


Hill-Murray senior Colten Greeder takes long road to top of Pioneers' depth chart

Hill-Murray senior Colten Greeder beats Edina goaltender Andrew Rohkohl and Hornets' defenseman Ben Hull (2) for a second-period goal. Photo by Adam Crane

Colten Greeder is one of those high-energy guys whose pumping legs and swirling skates form mini tornadoes.

He is here. He is there. He is everywhere.

“He’s a pain in the rear to play against because his motor is always running and he’s all over the place,” Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner said about his senior forward. “And as soon as you look for him, he’s somewhere else.”

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Greeder, a senior who spent last season on the junior varsity, started this season on the Pioneers’ third line. Soon enough, he was moved up to No. 1-ranked Hill-Murray’s second line.

Greeder’s rise to prominence hit its zenith on Saturday, Jan. 5, as he scored a clutch goal in the Pioneers’ 2-1 victory over No. 3 Edina at Braemar Arena. 

Greeder spent the night playing on Hill-Murray’s top line, joining team scoring leaders Zach LaValle and Mitch Slattery.

Not bad for a kid who, a few months ago, was just hoping to make the Pioneers’ varsity.

Hill-Murray senior Colten Greeder, middle, has four goals and seven assists this season. Photo by Adam Crane

“I worked hard over the summer,” said Greeder, who attended a variety of summer camps in preparation for the season. “I got my shot playing with LaValle and Slattery and took advantage of it.”

Greeder’s goal came after LaValle fired a low shot wide. The puck took a lively bounce off the end boards behind the goal and popped in front just as the hustling Greeder reached the crease. He made no mistake in firing it past Edina goaltender Andrew Rohkohl, who was still scrambling to get into position.

“Luckily it came right to me and I got to bounce one in,” said Greeder, who has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 games this season. “It was nice to have that happen.”

Greeder would have you believe his success can be attributed to nothing more than a series of favorable bounces. The truth is he has had to bust his behind to get everything that has come his way.

“As a coach sometimes it’s frustrating because he might not be where he’s supposed to be, but at least he’s hustling,” Lechner said. “He’s that (Energizer) bunny.”

-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Pioneers get OT winner from old reliable

Hill-Murray senior captain Zach LaValle (21) scored in overtime for the Pioneers against Edina. Photo by Adam Crane

Hill-Murray senior forward Zach LaValle got almost everything he wanted from his game-winning goal in overtime on Saturday.

Looking for a “top shelf, highlight-reel goal,” LaValle settled for a puck under the armpit of Edina goaltender Andrew Rohkohl as No. 1 Hill-Murray edged No. 3 Edina 2-1 on the road at Braemar Arena.

“It didn’t go where I wanted it to go but it went in,” LaValle said with a smile.

LaValle’s goal was the difference in a game featuring two teams with similar green and white colors and disciplined styles. Hill-Murray (11-1-1) has yet to allow more than two goals in a game this season. Edina (11-3) has allowed more than two goals just twice.

Overlooked at times in hockey circles because he also plays football and baseball, LaValle’s abilities and intangibles helped all three Pioneers’ teams reach their respective state tournaments as a junior.

Hill-Murray's Zach LaValle, left, has been a varsity regular since he was in the eighth grade. Photo by Adam Crane

Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner said LaValle’s goal Saturday was a reward for another steady performance.

“You look at him sometimes and you don’t see a pile of flash,” Lechner said. “But you watch the tape and he’s always in the right spots grinding, working hard and giving himself the best chance to succeed. That’s why I hope someone at the next level catches that.”

Injury or illness left the Hornets without four starters: goaltender Willie Benjamin and forwards Miguel Fidler, Andy Jordahl and Dylan Malmquist. 

But the Hornets, who coach Curt Giles scolded for a lack of effort last week, played with urgency. Giles came away impressed with his team’s renewed energy.

“The kids worked extremely hard and played extremely well considering we had four kids out of the lineup,” Giles said.

Edina’s Tim Spicola opened the scoring at 4:45 of the second period with a quick shot from the top of the circle that sent the puck through the feet of Pioneers’ goaltender John Dugas.

A good bounce helped Hill-Murray draw even later in the second period. A puck came off the boards behind Rohkohl into good position for Colten Greeder to slam home at 11:36.

The next goal was LaValle’s game winner.

“You’re disappointed in the loss due to the fact that they played so well against the best team in the state,” Giles said.

-- David La Vaque, Star Tribune staff writer

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap

Zach LaValle

Senior Zach LaValle scored off a faceoff 62 seconds into overtime to boost No. 1-ranked Hill-Murray past No. 3 Edina 2-1 on Saturday, Jan. 5 at Braemar Arena in Edina.

LaValle got the puck to linemate Mitch Slattery off the faceoff to the right of Edina goaltender Andrew Rohkohl. 

Slattery moved the puck back to LaValle, who drilled a shot from close range that ended a tight-checking, defensive-oriented game that included solid goaltending from both Rohkohl -- who was filling in for injured starter Willie Benjamin -- and Hill-Murray’s John Dugas.

Hill-Murray (11-1-1) extended its unbeaten streak to seven games with the victory. The Pioneers were playing their first game since winning the Schwan Cup Gold Division Championship in a shootout over St. Thomas Academy.

Colten Greeder, a senior who played on the Pioneers’ junior varsity last year, tied the game at 1 in the second period when he slammed the puck past Rohkohl after a LaValle shot banked off the boards behind the net and slid in front just as the hard-charging Greeder arrived.

Edina (11-3-0) opened the scoring in the second on a long-range blast from senior Tim Spicola. His shot found a hole between Dugas’ leg pads and put the Hornets ahead 1-0 4:45 into the period.

Greeder’s goal came with 5:24 left in the second.

Both teams had multiple close-range scoring chances in the final period but Rohkohl and Dugas exchanged tough saves to extend the game to overtime.

Dugas finished with 27 saves, and Rohkohl had 30.

-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

1. Zach LaValle, Hill-Murray
Game-winning goal in overtime. Assist on the tying goal in the second period. Tough defensive play. Unflappable leadership. About the only thing LaValle, a senior who has been doing it all for the Pioneers since he was in the eighth grade, didn’t do was drive the Zamboni between periods.

2. Colten Greeder, Hill-Murray
Scouts like to talk about “honest” players. That’s code for guys who work their tails off shift after shift after shift. Greeder, promoted to the Pioneers’ top line because of an injury to Josh French, was his usual leg-churning, “honest” self, but he also contributed a huge second-period goal on a drive to the net.

3. Andrew Rohkohl, Edina
The junior, filling in for injured senior Willie Benjamin, showed no signs of big-game nervousness while stopping 30 shots. He was on his angles and limited his rebounds most of the night, looking more like a poised veteran than a varsity newbie.

-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Edina goaltender Andrew Rohkohl. Photo by Adam Crane

Edina goaltender Andrew Rohkohl. Photo by Adam Crane

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