Centennial sophomore Hans Gorowsky scores one of his two first-period goals against Champlin Park. Photo by Helen Nelson
With stick and puck, Centennial’s Trey Hughes can pick his corners as easily as a pool shark running the table.
With his words, well, there’s no wasted effort there either.
“We were a little complacent,” the senior forward said about the Cougars’ letdown late in the second period against Champlin Park. “We thought we had it in the bag.”
Hughes scored what proved to be the most important goal of No. 4-seeded Centennial’s 6-3 triumph over the No. 5 Rebels on Friday, Feb. 25, in the Section 5AA quarterfinals at the Ice Forum at Champlin in Champlin Park.
Centennial (13-11-2) led 4-1 after the first period and it looked like it would remain that way going into the third. But Champlin Park (13-12-1) scored twice in the final minute of the second period, both goals coming from senior Travis Swan.
Cougars coach Erik Aus said after the second period there was a discussion in the locker room about starting the third period quickly, about having a sense of urgency.
OK. It is one thing to talk about getting an early goal, is it something altogether different to go out and do it.
Hughes, turns out, is a guy who gets things done. He scored off a rebound of a Riley Colvard shot just 23 seconds into the third.
“That was a spark,” Hughes said. “I think without that we wouldn’t have got the hop on them. I feel like once we got that goal they kind of rolled over.”
Champlin Park coach Pat Janostin agreed that the early goal was a difficult one from which to recover.
“The hardest one, is (Hughes’ goal),” Janosti said. “It doesn’t matter if it is high school or college or the National Hockey League, stuff like that is going to happen. It kills you .
“Coaches never want to give up a goal in the first shift or the last shift.”
Champlin Park didn’t have the depth to match Centennial. All three of the Cougars’ lines applied heavy pressure in the Rebels’ zone. All three cracked the scoresheet.
“They move the puck really good,” Champlin Park senior Terry Hennen said. “They just played simple hockey, got it deep and went to work.”
Technically, this was a home game for Centennial.
The Cougars wore their white uniforms, occupied the home bench and had the advantage of making the last line change.
Centennial coach Erik Aus would have preferred, as the home team, that he not be playing Champlin Park in the Rebels’ home arena.
“When we got this information in September, I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I’m not going to be happy if that is us,’ ” he said.
Sure enough, as the No. 4 seed in the Section 5AA tournament, it was Centennial that drew No. 5 Champlin Park in a quarterfinal matchup. In previous years, all quarterfinal games but the ones involving the Rebels were played at the Ice Forum at Champlin. Champlin Park’s games have been played at a neutral site such as the Andover Community Center.
“I told our kids they are not going to change it, this is what we have to do,” Aus said. “They are going to change it next year. This is a one-time deal."
Sophomore Hans Gorowsky scored twice, and senior Riley Colvard had a goal and an assist to lead Centennial past Champlin Park 6-3 on Friday, Feb. 25, in the Section 5AA quarterfinals.
In a scheduling oddity, No. 4-seeded Centennial (13-11-2) was the home team even though the game was played at No. 5 Champlin Park’s home rink, the Ice Forum at Champlin in Champlin Park.
The Cougars, who beat the Rebels (13-12-1) twice during the regular season by a combined score of 8-2, led 4-1 after the first period and appeared to be in cruise control in the second.
Champlin Park senior Travis Swan ignited the home crowd by scoring twice in the final minute of the second period to pull the Rebels to within 4-3.
Just 23 seconds into the third period, Centennial was back in control after a goal by Trey Hughes. Colvard scored on a power play 5:42 into the final period, depositing a cross-ice pass into the upper corner of the net.
Centennial goaltender Brett Larsen made 20 saves, while Champlin Park’s Tyler Nelson had 22.
Centennial wore the home white jerseys, had the final line change and occupied the home bench, but both teams had about equal support among the estimated 900 fans.
Champlin Park played without senior standout Garrett Van Tuyl, who was serving the fourth game of a suspension for fighting. Van Tuyl played in th Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League in the fall.
Centennial advances to play No. 1 seed Maple Grove at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum in St. Paul.
1. Riley Colvard, Centennial
The senior’s third-period power-play goal was a crushing blow to Champlin Park’s comeback hopes, as his upper-shelf shot from right face-off circle put the Cougars ahead 6-3 early in the third. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Colvard was a force most every shift, creating chances with his speed and hustle and hounding Rebels’ defensemen with his seemingly endless reach.
2. Hans Gorowsky, Centennial
The cousin of former Cougars standout Tom Gorowsky scored twice in the first period, giving Centennial a huge spark to start the game. Gorowsky just missed on a couple good chances to complete the hat trick. The sophomore who scored six regular season goals in 24 games seemed unphased by the playoff atmosphere, always seemed to be around the puck – especially when it was in the slot.
3. Travis Swan, Champlin Park
The senior forward put his stamp on the game by scoring twice in a 40 second span during the final minute of the second period. Both times he was stationed just outside the crease when he scored. Swan’s second goal pulled the Rebels to within 4-3. His clutch production was somewhat unexpected, given that he scored four goals in 25 regular season games.