In the High School hockey world David met Goliath in semi-final action of the Holiday Classic in St. Louis Park – and David won.
The Moorhead Spuds shut down the previously undefeated Wayzata Trojans 2-1 and advanced to the finals to face the Eden Prairie Eagles on Thursday, Dec. 30.
Cody Rahman scored the go-ahead – and eventual game-winner – goal at 6:17 in the second period, although their were a number of tense moments in the final half of the second period and into the third period.
Moorhead goalie Michael Bitzer faced 18 second-period shots from the Trojans and piled up 36 saves to help lead his team to the hard fought victory. For Bitzer, that is 76 saves on 79 shots for the tournament so far.
While the Spuds were outshot 36-18, they were able to limit the number of quality scoring chances by the Trojans (10-1).
Moorhead kept the high octane Trojans at bay with suffocating defensive zone coverage that kept the likes of Tony Cameranesi, Mario Lucia, and Tyler Klein to the outside and did not allow them chances off the rush or in odd-man situations.
When the Trojans had ice through the neutral zone, the Spuds found a way to take the passing lanes away and also got a body on the Trojans, immediately taking them off their game.
Bryant Christian converted the back end of a three-on-one as the Spuds made good on a power play goal early in the first period at 2:46.
The Trojans got caught in the neutral zone, and Eric Brenk held the puck to the left circle and found Christian, who buried the puck in the open net for the 1-0 lead.
The ice was tough to come by for the Trojans but at 12:56 in the first period Sam Majka evened the score at one with a shot that caromed in off the goaltenders left knee.
That set up the heroics for Rahman, whose goal came off a scramble in front of Trojan goalie Andrew McIntyre.
"On the face off, Brenk won it back to me, I was facing our zone so I was just trying to get it deep and he was there behind the net," Rahman said. "He wrapped it around and (Ben) Doda was sitting there, fighting for the puck, drawing two guys to him. I was sitting back door, wide open and tapped it in."
Moorhead was able to contain the Trojan power play off the board in four chances.
The entire Spud team stayed committed to not allowing the Trojans to beat them in individual battles or in one-on-one situations. The puck support was effective in the win.
Key to the victory was the play of defensemen Nic Oxton and Terry Leabo, who were stuck on the ice for extended periods.
"It was hard, you got Lucia and Cameranesi out there. They are just hard to play with and stay in front of them, block shots and take the body all the time." Leabo said.
He and his teammates did just that, and the Spuds (4-2-1) played a flawless defensive game in their effort.
"It was interesting after watching them yesterday, I thought Centennial played very well against them," Moorhead coach Dave Morinville said. "Our guys played well, we got good goaltending, timely goaltending, obviously, our penalty kill was good.
The longer the game went and the closer the game was, you could tell they were starting to squeeze it a little bit," Morinville said. "That's what happens when you have a team that hasn't lost a game yet, and everyone's pointing the fingers at them, and we have been on that side of the coin before."
They will get back at it on Thursday, Dec. 30, when Moorhead takes on the Eden Prairie Eagles.