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Trick-y treat

By Tim Kolehmainen, Breakdown Sports USA, 01/19/13, 11:45PM CST


Eagan fans celebrate Zach Glienke's three goals by littering ice with their headgear

Eagan goaltender Andrew Lindgren (35) dives to poke away a Hibbing/Chisholm scoring chance. Photos by Adam Crane.

To say the atmosphere at the 7th annual Hockey Day Minnesota was a bit looser and more festive that a typical high school hockey game is an understatement. Ask Eagan coach Mike Taylor, who has been known to enjoy a joke or two.

After his team rolled to a 9-2 victory over Hibbing/Chisholm in the morning game on Pokegama Lake in Grand Rapids, Taylor had a visit from the “Grand Rapids mafia,” as he laughingly put it. Taylor was leaning into the 30 mile per hour winds on his way to the dressing tents when he was tackled into a snow bank by a fleece- and flannel-mummified onlooker, who shouted, “that’s how we say congratulations up here.”

After the initial shock, Taylor recognized the grinning face of longtime friend Johnny DeCenzo, the brother of Bluejackets’ coach Mark DeCenzo. Taylor and Mark DeCenzo have been friends for at least 25 years and coached together at Apple Valley. Johnny DeCenzo lifted Taylor out of the snow bank, brushed the snow off him and helped him on his way to congratulate his team – probably without the snow bath.

It was cold enough as is.

Both teams had to endure a blustery game with below-zero temperatures and gusty winds that made skating upwind an adventure. But Taylor and the Wildcats seemed less affected than their Iron Range counterparts.

“Don’t make it any bigger than it is,” said Taylor of how he told his team to deal with the near-blizzard conditions. “But this is something that you’ll remember for your whole life. Be honored that we were chosen and let’s show them who we are.”

The Wildcats certainly did that. They showed what a top-10 Class 2A team looks like when it’s hitting on all cylinders. Zack Glienke scored a hat trick, Jack Jenson had two goals and the Wildcats blew the game open with a three-goal outburst in a one-minute, 43-second span early in the second period.

“We knew we wanted to come out fast and physical and play our style of hockey,” said Glienke, whose 6-foot-3 frame should have left him like a sail buffeted in the wind. Yet he found a way to power through it – and through the Bluejackets’ defense. Glienke added an assist on Cullen Willox’s late goal and leads Eagan with 40 points on the season.

Despite the 30 mile per hour wind gusts that sent the wind chill factor well below zero, excited Eagan fans tossed their stocking caps on the ice to celebrate Glienke's trick. And the Wildcats rolled from there.

“Get pucks to the net, crash the net and get some goals,” said Glienke of the Wildcats’ strategy. “We just kept piling on from there.”

Jenson got the Wildcats on the board just 1:34 into the game and they were off and running. Kyle Stebbing, Nick Wolff and Josh Loew also scored for Eagan (13-3-1). Cole Maki and Josh Bestul scored for Hibbing/Chisholm (7-9-1).

“We have a saying, it’s not who we play, it’s where we play and it’s not when we play. It’s how we play,” said Taylor. “And I think they lived that today.”

A Hibbing/Chisholm forward crashes into Eagan goaltender Andrew Lindgren, who kept the puck out of the net.

Statistics, summary

Game recap

Zach Glienke recorded a hat trick and Jack Jenson added two goals as Eagan rolled to a 9-2 victory Hibbing/Chisholm in the opening game of the Hockey Day Minnesota celebration on Pokegama Lake in Grand Rapids.

Glienke's third goal capped a three-goal Wildcat outburst in a 1-minute, 43-second span of the second that made the score 6-1.

Despite the 30 mile per hour wind gusts that sent the wind chill factor well below zero, excited Eagan fans tossed their stocking caps on the ice to celebrate Glienke's trick. And the Wildcats rolled from there.

Kyle Stebbing, Nick Wolff, Josh Loew and Cullen Willox also scored for Eagan (13-3-1), which outshot the Bluejackets by a 41-15 margin. Cole Maki and Josh Bestul scored for Hibbing/Chisholm (7-9-1). The Bluejackets rotated three goaltenders in the game.

1. Zach Glienke, Eagan
Glienke capped a big outburst from the Wildcats, scoring his third goal of the game midway through the second period that stretched the lead to an insurmountable 6-1. The big -- very big -- Eagan forward added to his team leading 40 points with an assist later in the game as Wildcats' fans chanted "Mr. Hockey, Mr. Hockey."

2. Jack Jenson, Eagan
The transfer from St. Thomas Academy opened the scoring just 1:34 into the game and the Wildcats were off and running. Jenson finished with two goals and an assist.

3. Zach Schultz, Eagan
The senior forward assisted on all three of Zach Glienke's hat trick of goals, doubling his season assist total in one gigantic burst.

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