White Bear Lake forward Jake Wahlin takes aim at the Cretin-Derham Hall goal in a 4-2 win at the Vadnis Sports Center. Photo by Rick Orndorf
White Bear Lake coach Tim Sager was a little disappointed after his team’s win Thursday night.
No, it had nothing to do with his No. 17 Bears’ performance in their 4-2 win over No. 15 Cretin-Durham Hall. Instead, Sager was a bit bummed to find his signature tiepin smashed on the bench after the victory.
“It was probably those kids celebrating,” Sager said. “But I guess I’ll be able to live through it.”
He probably will.
After all, could you blame them? The emotionally driven win over Cretin-Durham Hall gave the Bears the Suburban East Conference championship – and a much-needed win heading into section playoffs.
An early start helped White Bear Lake hang on for the win, thanks to two first period goals from juniors Jake Wahlin and Tom Giller.
Wahlin’s came just 2:24 into the opening period when Giller fed him a pass across the slot on a shorthanded odd-man rush. The junior captain for the Bears took the one-timer and fired it over Raiders goalie Trent Jancze’s glove.
“Last time they got three on us, so it was nice to come and play up ahead instead of playing from behind,” Wahlin said.
His linemate Giller scored just over six minutes later when he sniped the shortside corner over the blocker of Jancze on the rush.
“I heard it was a nice shot,” Giller chuckled. “I closed my eyes and shot it and it kind of went up on me.”
The Bears added to their lead in the second period, and entered the third up 3-0. Despite a physical response from the Raiders, White Bear Lake kept battling to get shots on net and use their speed as an advantage.
“They’re big but we were faster,” Wahlin said. “So we just kept chipping pucks and working through it.”
The three goal lead was tested in the third period after two Cretin-Durham Hall goals, but a late empty netter sealed the win – and conference championship – for the Bears.
Going into sections, the home game was just what White Bear Lake needed, according to Sager. A rambunctious crowd and playoff atmosphere helped establish a mindset for the team headed into their section playoffs.
“You can’t replicate this intensity in practice. You can play the ACDC as loud as you want, but the players know when it’s real and when it isn’t,” Sager said
White Bear Lake forward Jake Wahlin can't quite get around Cretin-Derham Hall's Max Jackson in a 4-2 Bears win. Photo by Rick Orndorf