Jake Hoffman stands 6-3, but only weighs 175-pounds. However, he gets in the trenches and does the dirty work for the Ponies.
In the final game of the night at the St. Croix Rec Center, where all the Suburban East Conference (SEC) teams played today, Hoffman scored a goal and had two important assists in Stillwater's 6-3 win against Mounds View.
His goal in the first period was one that happens from players willing to pay a price.
On the power play, Hoffman tipped in a shot from the blue line by Neal Goff, which gave Stillwater a 2-0 lead.
"It wasn't really a hard shot," Hoffman said. "but I just got it in and we needed it."
Mounds View goalie Sam Hjelm, who made 21 saves, didn't even see the shot coming with Hoffman's frame blinding any vision he would have had.
"That is kind of my game," Hoffman said. "I have size, so I have to get to the net."
Hoffman also contributed to his role as a playmaker. His two assists were huge in getting Stillwater the lead late in the second period.
On Kyle Mogren's game-winning goal from the top of the circles on a wicked wrist shot in the upper left corner, it was Hoffman who found Mogren, one of the Ponies more offensively gifted defencemen.
It was only 74 seconds later when Hoffman won an offensive zone face off to Cody Corbett, who got a shot on goal and Cory Erchul banged home the rebound.
Once again, Hoffman was in front, battling for position and it allowed Erchul to get a few cracks at a loose puck where he was able to get it by Hjelm.
Stillwater needed every point from Hoffman and more so, the time he put points on the board.
In what ended up being a face paced game from start to finish, goals were going up like they were going out of style. The second period had five goals alone and the Mustangs even had a 3-2 lead.
"It was a little more high scoring than we would have probably liked," Hoffman said. "Probably won't win too many games if the scores end up like that, but we were on the right side of it. We played well and had a good end to the second period after they had the lead."
With just more than three minutes left, Stillwater had Robert Click and Neal Goff go to the penalty box, which gave Mounds View a chance to pull within one, being down 5-3.
Having to deal with some adversity for the second time, the Ponies handled it with poise once again and didn't give the Mustangs a good scoring threat.
"You kind of want to get one quick at that point," Mustangs coach Brad Schwartzbauer said. "It could have made things a little more interesting at the end, but they beat us in just about every part of the game. They are a quick team and can get to loose pucks when you don't handle it on the power play."
Ponies head coach Phil Housley was not behind the bench tonight against Mounds View.
Assistants Pete Hamilton and Matt Doman took over the head coaching duties as Housley attends to Team USA for the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.
Housley will be one of the assistants for Team USA and will have some familiar faces to the Minnesota high school hockey scene on the roster.
The last two Mr. Hockey Award winners, Nick Leddy (2009) of Eden Prairie and Nick Bjugstad (2010) of Blaine are on the roster. Leddy had his hands full of hardware after the 2009 season with the Mr. Hockey Award and a state title as his Eagles won it that year.
Leddy played his freshman season at Minnesota before he opted to skip his last three years to play for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Bjugstad’s Bengals made it to the state tournament last year, but lost to Apple Valley in the quarterfinals. He is a freshman for Minnesota this season.
Brock Nelson of Warroad is also on the roster and was a Mr. Hockey finalist last season. His Warriors team made it to the state tournament and took third place, a day after losing to Breck in the semifinals.
Nelson is in his freshman season at North Dakota and will be accompanied by fellow Sioux freshman Derek Forbort. Forbort attended Duluth East, but left for the United State National Development team (USNDT) for the 2009-10 season.
Justin Faulk of South St. Paul and a freshman for Minnesota-Duluth will join team USA. He left the Packers after his sophomore season for the USNDT.
Housley and Faulk might have an interesting connection. Prior to his professional hockey career, Housley played his prep hockey for South St. Paul. His number is retired at Wakota Arena.
The nightcap of the Suburban East Boys Hockey Day kept everyone up as Stillwater won a high flying affair 6-3.
Jake Hoffman scored a goal and had two assists to lead the Ponies, while Cory Erchul and Nick Anderson also contributed with multi-point evenings.
Mounds View was led by Morgan Puncochar, who had three assists. His team had a breif 3-2 lead in the second period after trailing 2-1 after the first.
Stillwater was just to fast and physical tonight. Even when the Mustangs had a five-on-three advantage late in the game, the Ponies pressed on and did not allow Mounds View to get to many chances on goalie Blake Cates.
When Mounds View pulled its goalie, Blake Dochniak took advantage and put away the game with his team leading fourth goal of the season.
Casey Anderson, Ryan Parise and David Claridge netted goals for Mounds View and goalie Sam Hjelm finished with 21 saves.
Cates had 19 saves for the win and help the Ponies to a 3-1-1 record.
On Tuesday, Stillwater will host a big one against Minnetonka and Mounds View will also have a nonconference game and will be on the road against Irondale.
1. Jake Hoffman, Stillwater
Hoffman tallied a goal and two assists for the Ponies and they needed each point he produced. Stillwater needed just about every point Hoffman put on the board. Hoffman got the puck to Kyle Mogren, who ripped home the game winner. He was a force in front of the net, using his size to take up space and the vision of Mustangs goalie Sam Hjelm. Hoffman benefited from his size when he tipped in his goal early in the first period, which gave the Ponies a 2-0 lead.
2. Kyle Mogren, Stillwater
On the power play, he let go one of the best wrist shots of the whole entire day. From the top of the circles, he ripped a shot, high blocker side that beat Hjelm with ease. The goal was the game winner for the Ponies. Mogren is one of the stronger offensive players on the blue line, but he is also physical in the Ponies zone. He laid some heavy body checks and was solid on the penalty kill.
3. Morgan Puncochar, Mounds View
Truly showed how being unselfish can be a good thing. The junior assistant captain had three assists on the night. Two early in the second to give the Mustangs a brief lead. Puncochar is always looking to dish when he enters the zone and does so because he uses his body to protect the puck. His line produced and that is why they received so much ice time.