Centennial celebrates its first goal Thursday night at Ridder Arena during the Schwan Cup Gold Division tournament. The Cougars went on to defeat Minnetonka 6-3. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Centennial goaltender Travis Allen and teammate Will Francis (7) celebrate as time expires during Thursday's 6-3 victory over Minnetonka at Ridder Arena. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Centennial’s identity and ability as a physical, blue-collar, grind it out team might never have been as distinct as it showed Thursday evening at Ridder Arena, where the Cougars dictated the pace and tempo of the game en route to a 6-3 victory over Minnetonka.
The No. 8-2A Cougars (6-1) blocked 20 shots, dished out nearly 50 hits, and made the most of their opportunities to roll past No. 12-2A Minnetonka (5-5) and into the semifinal round of this year’s Schwan Cup Gold Division tournament.
“We’re pretty happy with the effort, our guys were resilient today when it counted,” Centennial coach Ritch Menne said. “When we were afforded chances, we were able to find the back of the net.”
Centennial never trailed and led virtually the entire way after Matt Jennrich’s goal midway through the first period opened the door. Jennrich finished with two points, while teammates Max Dunnom and Carter Wagner each netted two goals in the victory.
“We are a hard-working, blue collar hockey team,” Dunnom said. “That’s always been our identity. Hard work creates luck.”
A physical game took shape on both sides, as Minnetonka worked to keep pace. A total of 11 penalties were issued, leading to the Cougars killing three of four penalties which helped rally the team, despite Minnetonka outshooting Centennial 25-22 for the game.
“Penalties are rarely a good thing, but with the way we killed them, it gave us a lot of confidence and momentum,” Menne said.
After Minnetonka drew within one score twice during second period (3-2 and 4-3), Centennial closed strong, scoring twice in the final frame to secure the victory.
The Cougars did all the little things, like taking away passing lanes and pushing play to the outside, that would allow them to survive the Skippers’ speed.
“We’re a muck it up, grind it out team,” Menne said. “Our guys like playing that way, Anoka County hockey.”
Cougars goalie Travis Allen had 22 saves and Matt Muller recorded 16 saves for the Skippers.
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