Delano's Brian Halonen (26) sought to block a Breck shot in the third period. Coach Gerrit van Bergen estimated the Tigers blocked at least 30 shots in their winning effort. Photo: Xavier Wang * email@example.com
Delano fans packed their side of the bleachers at Parade Ice Garden more than half an hour before the Class 1A, Section 2 final. Then they watched the top-seeded Tigers earn the school’s first hockey state tournament berth with a 2-0 victory over playoff nemesis Breck.
Ninth-grader Garrett Pinoniemi scored what proved to be the game-winning goal about eight minutes into the first period. Senior Kyle Ylitalo added a power play goal midway through the second period. Tiger. Goaltender Jackson Hjelle, a junior, made 28 saves.
Delano (24-3-1) had lost to Breck (22-4-2) the last four seasons in the section tournament and had not beaten the Mustangs before a 5-2 regular-season victory in November. Coach Gerrit van Bergen estimated the Tigers blocked at least 30 shots Thursday in their winning effort.
Hundreds of people from Delano, a western suburb of about 5,600 people, turned out for a team that included many members who have skated together since they were in mites. Fans who couldn’t find a seat on the Delano side found the few empty seats on the Breck side of the stands.
Senior captain Ben Meyers said he couldn’t put into words what the win meant for the town. All of the players’ youth coaches were on hand for the game, he said. Dozens of community members lined the tunnel as the team emerged after the game.
“I know this whole town is just buzzing,” Meyers said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Goals by Delano's Garrett Pinoniemi and Kyle Ylitalo helped the Tigers defeat Breck 2-0 in the Class 1A, Section 2 championship to earn their first state tournament berth.
Pinoniemi scored in the first period Thursday on a breakaway after getting a pass from Ylitalo.In the second period Ylitalo scored on a power play. Goalie Jackson Hjelle had 28 saves for the Tigers.
Breck had defeated Delano in four consecutive years in the section playoffs. Earlier this season the Tigers defeated the Mustangs for the first time.
Check back later for more on the game.