It took awhile for Lakeville South to get comfortable Thursday at Xcel Center. Nearly an entire period.
Once they found their comfort zone, the unseeded Cougars went toe-to-toe with St. Thomas Academy, the No. 2 seed, and pulled out a 5-2 victory in the first Class 2A quarterfinal.
St. Thomas Academy (23-5-1) outshot Lakeville South 17-4 in the first period and managed a 1-0 lead on Ray Christy’s goal at 8:38. But the Cadets left the ice frustrated with a 1-1 tie.
“The first period is where we could have capitalized and we didn’t,” St. Thomas co-coach Greg Vanelli said. “When they had their chances, they capitalized on them.”
Lakeville South coach A.J. Bucchino acknowledged he was thrilled that the game was tied at that point. “It was a great situation,” he said. “It was a two-period game after that.”
The Cougars, refreshed and confident heading into the second period, took a 3-1 lead on goals by Jack Olsen and Dawson Klein 47 seconds apart, both the result of improvised face-off plays.
St. Thomas Academy countered with a goal 18 seconds after Klein scored, but the Cadets failed to solve goalie Isaiah DiLaura and the Cougars’ vaunted defense after that.
“We started off nervous because none of us had been there before,” said senior forward Cory Checco, whose rebound goal at 12 minutes of the first period tied the score 1-1. “Once we started to get the puck down deep and started checking the way we usually do, we took over.”
Lakeville South (19-9-1) added a goal by William Moore and an empty-netter by Bradley Golant in the third period.
Continuing the trend set in Wednesday’s Class 1A quarterfinals, unseeded Lakeville South defeated No. 2-seed St. Thomas Academy 5-2 in the first Class 2A quarterfinals of the day.
Lakeville South used two goals 47 seconds apart, some solid goaltending and a few fortunate bounces to upset the Cadets.
With the game tied 1-1, Lakeville South took the lead on Jack Olsen’s improbable wrist shot from the circle to take a 2-1 lead at 4:55 of the second period. While the crowd was still buzzing, Dawson Klein scored on a screened shot from the point at the 5:42 mark, giving the Cougars a 3-1 advantage.
St. Thomas Academy controlled play for most of the first period and had numerous scoring chances that never found the back of the net. The Cadets cut the lead to 3-2 on a goal by Bren McFadden at 6:08, but that was as close as they would get.
Lakeville South got an insurance goal by William Moore at 13:34 of the third period and an empty net goal by Bradley Golant to finish the scoring. Cougars goalie Isaiah DiLaura made 31 saves for Lakeville South (19-9-1).
Check back later for more on the game.