The Trojan defense prides itself on blocking lanes and getting between shots. Photo by Jon Laqua.
Wayzata's Billy Duma gets physical in his defensive zone. Photo by Jon Laqua.
Midway through the third period, a puck went bouncing off a Wayzata forward’s shin pads and into the corner.
The bench erupted.
Nothing gets the Trojans going like a blocked shot and solid defensive zone play.
“Playing defense is a mentality,” Wayzata coach Pat O’Leary said. “Everyone likes to play offense, not always defense … and our guys rally around big blocks.”
That defense-first mentality helped the No. 7 ranked Trojans defeat No. 19 Bloomington Jefferson 6-1 on Friday in the semifinals of the Sports Authority Holiday Classic at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
O’Leary stresses the importance of defense for a Trojans team that prides itself on blocking shots, and Wayzata showcased this strategy in dominating fashion, limiting the Jaguars to just 17 shots throughout the game.
“It’s kind of cliché, but defense wins championships,” forward Chase Heising said. “That’s how we build our game, we play defense first, and obviously we’ve got to score goals, but making sure we stop the opponent is what’s most important to us.”
A blocked shot here, a big hit there. It all contributed to the suffocating style of defense Wayzata played all night long.
“It’s a mentality with our guys. It’s not always about whether they block it or not, it’s about being in lanes, being hard to play against, and timely blocks are huge,” O’Leary said.
Right from the start, neither team was afraid to throw around the body, either. After all, making timely hits is a part of keeping the puck out of the net.
“We’re not the biggest team, but it’s important to play physical, especially against Jefferson, who’s a good physical team, so we just had to match their physicality,” Trojans defenseman Alec Hemmenway said.
But what may have been most impressive was Wayzata’s depth on the scoresheet. Six goals from six players helped lead the Trojans into Saturday's championship game of the tournament.
“It’s nice that we’ve got everybody contributing. We’ve got a lot of great players all the way down from first line to fourth line and it means a lot that we have that kind of depth,” Heising said.
-- Will Jarvis