Andrew Bertrand (5) and Centennial spent much of the night within Wayzata goaltender Aaron Dingmann's comfort zone -- and his crease. Photo by Adam Crane
Introductions aren’t necessary, but let’s make one anyway.
Aaron Dingmann, meet Andrew Bertrand.
Bertrand is the 6-foot Centennial senior who spent much of the Thursday night camped out in the Wayzata crease. No. 5 in your program, Public Enemy No. 1 for Trojans fans.
Bertrand is a smart kid. He isn’t going to say he or his teammates were intentionally targeting Dingmann with their shoulders, elbows and any other body parts they could throw the Wayzata senior goaltender’s direction.
“We weren’t really just gunning for him or anything, we were all just caught up in the game,” Bertrand said when asked if getting physical with Dingmann was part of the Cougars’ plan entering the state Class 2A quarterfinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. “We were all going hard at the net.”
That’s the way Centennial plays. Tough as week-old pot roast. As inviting as a bucket of nails. They don’t wear helmets as much as they do hard hats.
Wayzata coach Pat O’Leary said he had seen Centennial play this season. He knew what was coming. He warned his players. Well, most of them.
“It’s one of those deals where you don’t tell your goalie, ‘Expect to get run over tonight, ‘ “ O’Leary said after Wayzata rallied for a 2-1 overtime victory. “You’re not gonna do that. I did talk to the refs before and said that I’ve seen these guys play a little bit, and they have a tendency to play hard to the net.
“Nothing wrong with it. They play hard.”
Bertrand took a roughing penalty 4 minutes, 12 seconds into the opening period when he bulldozed Dingmann to the ice.
All in good fun, according to Wayzata’s unflappable goaltender.
“I thought the first one was kinda funny cuz I didn’t see the guy coming in, and he kinda just knocked the wind out of me,” Dingmann said. “I was just down there flailing around. I couldn’t breathe. Looking back on it, I kind of enjoyed it.”
Bertrand isn’t going to apologize for crashing the net. This is hockey. That is what hockey players do. He just happened to do it a lot on Thursday. Bertrand and Dingmann had so much face time they can probably recite each other’s life stories.
Or at least name the other guy’s laundry detergent.
“I didn’t really notice (where Dingmann was), I had my head down,” Bertrand said. “First one, I popped up and my face was in his jersey. I can’t say I felt bad about it, but you know, it happened.”
Centennial’s Connor Lovick got in on the action in the second period when he was called for elbowing after a pileup with Dingmann. Bertrand followed with another second-period penalty for interference on, you guessed it, Dingmann.
After missing most of last season because of injuries, Dingmann has said he has a new appreciation for playing the sport he loves. He is savoring every moment. Even the ones where he doubles as a crash dummy.
“I’m a goalie, and I don’t know if a lot of goalies like contact,” Dingmann said. “But I like to get in there and, you know, battle the other team or whatever.”
Dingmann finished with 28 saves, including a breakaway stop on a breakaway chance by Jordan Pitlick, and had no noticeable scrapes, bruises or bloodstains. He should be just fine for the Trojans’ semifinal matchup with No. 1-ranked Hill-Murray on Friday.
O’Leary described Dingmann as the heart of the Trojans.
“You guys heard it when they announced his name, the place went crazy,” O’Leary said. "We’ve been leaving him alone the last couple of days and the last week. Just let him do his deal."
Wayzata's Aaron Dingmann. Photo by Brian Nelson