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No. 3 Wayzata survives frantic finish

By MN Hockey Hub, 01/02/14, 1:00PM CST


Trojans' goaltender Vaughan Ahrens stands tall in win over No. 6 Benilde-St. Margaret's

Wayzata's Matthew Freytag (15) beats Benilde-St. Margaret's goaltender Jalen Long for a second-period goal. Photo by Loren Nelson

Simply put, it ended the way it should have.

Section 6AA foes and participants in what has become one of the state's stronger rivalries, No. 6-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret's and No. 3 Wayzata faced off in a tight regular season battle, this time the Trojans winning 2-1 on Thursday at the Plymouth Ice Center.

Trojans' defenseman Chandler Lindstrand made up for a slashing penalty in the second period with the game-winning goal in the third on a shot from the point that beat Benilde-St. Margaret's goalie Jalen Long, giving Wayzata a 2-0 lead.

"In a game that close you have to take advantage of your opportunities," Trojans' coach Pat O'Leary said.

O'Leary was referring to a delayed penalty on Benilde-St. Margaret's, which allowed for the extra attacker and Lindstrand some more space to get off a hard shot on net.

The two-goal lead was short-lived as Mark Kaske pulled the Red Knights within one after he got loose on a mini breakaway to put a backhand shot by Trojans' goalie Vaughan Ahrens, who made 20 saves on the night.

Benilde-St. Margaret's poured on the pressure late, coming within inches of tying the score when Evan Fleming rang a wrist shot off the post.

"Pipes are sometimes the goalies' best friend," Ahrens said. "I was pretty happy to hear the sound of the post."

Wayzata might be the perfect model for holding a late game lead. The Trojans have been notorious the past few seasons as a team willing to do whatever it takes to keep the puck out of their net.

Even Wayzata's top-end goal scorers are willing to stand in front of any shot.

"They do an excellent job at team defense and Pat (O'Leary) does a great job coaching them about that," Red Knights' coach Ken Pauly said. "We had about as good of chances as we could have asked for, but they blocked some shots when it mattered."

"It's easy to say you are going to block a shot, but it's another thing to get down and eat one for your team," O'Leary said. "You look at who we had out there at the end. Seniors that have been around for a long time and know what it takes."

Wayzata's Matthew Freytag opened the scoring in the second period on a wrist shot that beat Long.

It remained that way until Lindstrand scored to give the Trojans a bride 2-0 lead, until Kaske cut that in half.

Pauly said Thursday night's matchup is what he was expected between two top 10 teams. The teams met last year in the Section 6AA championship, with Wayzata winning 5-2.

"At the end of the day, aside from the fact that we didn't win, you have to say it was a great high school hockey game between two good teams," he said. "I was happy with how we came in and played against what I think is one of the best teams in the state right now."

O'Leary echoed Pauly's comment, even though his team had to deal with a little chaos at the end.

"Great game between two good hockey teams," he said. "Last two minutes, not a lot of coaching that you can do. Just have to let the players play and I thought our guys did a great job handling the pressure."

Bendile-St. Margaret's drops to 9-3-2 and will host St. Thomas Academy on Tuesday Jan. 7.

The Trojans are on a six game winning streak and improved to 10-3-0. They will be on the road to take on Holy Family Catholic on Saturday.

"We have a nice winning streak going on right now," Ahrens said. "Hopefully we can keep it up because we have some big games in the Lake Conference coming up."

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