Royals lose thriller to U.S. Women's national team.
List Archie Skalbeck as questionable for attending school on Monday.
In sports lingo, the Hopkins senior and scoring star might very well be a “healthy scratch,” considering what transpired on Saturday, Dec. 5, at a jammed Hopkins Pavillion.
The Royals, in a most usual and highly entertaining matchup with the U.S. Women’s Olympic team, lost 3-2 despite a late flurry of last-gasp shots that had U.S. goaltender Jessie Vetter sprawled on the ice and so out of position she had nothing to do but pray for the final buzzer to sound.
Skalbeck was among the Royals banging away at the puck at point blank range after Hopkins, already on a power play, pulled goaltender Alex Fons for a 6-on-4 advantage with about a minute left. The insanely wild sequence ended with the estimated crowd of 900 rising to its collective feet and sophomore Tanner Holmquist hoisting a backhand shot over a wide open net a second before the final horn sounded.
“The last thirty seconds, they were just throwing anything at the net,” Vetter said. “I was just rolling around trying to be in any position that I can be to make a save at that point.”
The much-anticipated Women vs. Boys showdown played out about as expected, with the U.S. team having a clear advantage in puck movement and all-around teamwork. Hopkins, meanwhile, enjoyed a signifcant edge in size and strength and, with Skalbeck, also had the fastest skater on the ice.
All that translated to a tight game that hinged on the goaltending of Vetter, who robbed Skalbeck on two breakaways before withstanding the final flurry at the end.
“On one of my breakaways the puck rolled up on me and I fanned on it,” said Skalbeck, who had been the subject of a steady dose of good-natured verbal jabs from some of Hopkins’ girls players heading into the game. “On one of the other ones, I just made a bad deke.
“And (Vetter) was good.”
Monique Lamoureaux scored the game-winning goal on a breakaway, deking Fons ---- one of the state’s top goaltenders ---- before coolly sliding the puck between his legs.
The U.S. women dominated most of the third period, holding a 9-1 advantage in shots by the midway point.
“I like the way we played the third period,” U.S. women’s national team coach Mark Johnosn said. “It was a good game all around. It really helps us out. We appreciate them giving us this opportunity. It was a pretty entertaining.”
Skalbeck scored the first goal for Hopkins to tie at 1 in the first period, and the Matt Hazuka’s goal 2:04 in the second tied it at 2.
During the next 12 minutes before Lamoureaux scored, Skalbeck used his speed to created three golden scoring chances. On one of them, he rang the puck off the crossbar.
“He’s definitely a great player,” Vetter said about the Royals’ top returning scorer from last season. “He makes things happen with his speed and his hands. He was definitely one of those people that I had to be aware of on the ice.”
Skalbeck, who has a 3.85 grade-point average, clearly takes care of schoolwork with the same type of diligence he devotes to hockey. So the amount of what he describes as "nagging" must be substantial for him to say, even half joking, “I don’t know if I am going to go to school for a couple of days.”
Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub managing editor, can be reached at 612-379-1030 ext. 126 or email@example.com.
1. Jessie Vetter
U.S. national team goaltender was brilliant in the closing stages of the third period when she stood tall despite a barrage of point-blank Hopkins chances.
2. Archie Skalbeck
Hopkins senior scored a goal, hit a crossbar and will have nightmares about the multiple breakaway chances he missed. Standout speed was put to good use.
3. Monique Lamoureaux
Scored the game winner in the third period by beating Hopkins standout Alex Fons on a breakway. Was buzzing around the Hopkins net all night.