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Burnsville's best offense is defenseman

By Loren Nelson, Editor, 02/26/11, 3:30PM CST


Eddie Wittchow scores twice to propel Blaze past Jefferson in Section 2AA semifinals

Burnsivlle defenseman Eddie Wittchow (20) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Bloomington Jefferson. Photo by Helen Nelson

Eddie Wittchow's two goals on Saturday, Feb. 26, gives him nine this season. Photo by Helen Nelson

Eddie Wittchow was sitting in the penalty box. Fuming.

“I thought it was a weak penalty,” Burnsville’s senior defenseman said. “I was just tying their guy up in front of the net, and he kind of dropped like a fly. I was questioning the ref about it.

“Turned out for the better for us.”

Burnsville and Bloomington Jefferson were locked in a scoreless tie in the second period when Wittchow grudgingly headed to the penalty box.

By the time he returned to the Burnsville bench, the Blaze were ahead by two goals.

Turned out for the better?

Turned out that Wittchow’s penalty was the best thing that could have happened to Burnsville in its 5-2 Section 2AA semifinal victory over Bloomington Jefferson on Saturday, Feb. 26, at Braemar Arena in Edina.

While Wittchow was in the box steaming, Hunter Anderson was on the ice, scoring. Anderson’s shorthanded goal 1 minute, 42 seconds into the second period touched off a four-goal Blaze scoring spree in the period.

Goal No. 2 came courtesy of the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Wittchow, who stepped out of the penalty box, took a pass from Mike Dockry at center ice and raced in alone on Jaguars goaltender Eric Fabano.

Burnsville's Jake Senta, left, reaches for a loose puck. Senta scored one of four Blaze goals in the second period. Photo by Helen Nelson

“That shorthanded goal really got us going,” Wittchow said. “That was a relief. I was pumped, and then coming out of the box I got the puck. I really didn’t know what to think.

“I just went to the net and shot it.”

Wittchow shot it high over Fabano, the puck rocketing under the crossbar in the right corner of the net.

“I was concerned, because Fabano is a very aggressive goalie,” Burnsville coach Eric Fabano said. “I thought he would come out and take the shooting angle away. But (Wittchow) was able to squeeze it in.”

Burnsville scored twice more in the second period to take a 4-0 lead.

“Just a couple little silly bounces and they jumped on it,” Bloomington Jefferson coach Jeff Lindquist said. “It took us a little while to get back to our game. We got a little rattled.”

Bloomington Jefferson scored late in the second, and Ryan Siiro’s power-play goal in the third pulled the Jaguars to within 4-2 with 5:28 left.

Forget about that dramatic finish. Wittchow, who scored nine goals in 25 regular season games, got his second of the afternoon on a shot from the point just 25 seconds after the goal by Siiro. 

“Eddie is a heckuva player,” Burnsville forward Cory Chapman said. “You can’t ask for any more from him.”

Burnsville senior goaltender Bodhi Engum made 33 saves against Bloomington Jefferson in the Section 2AA semifinals. Photo by Helen Nelson

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Defenseman Eddie Wittchow scored two goals and Bodhi Engum made 33 saves to lead Burnsville past Bloomington Jefferson 5-2 on Saturday, Feb. 26, in the Section 2AA semifinals at Braemar Arena in Edina.

Burnsville advances to the section finals at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.

No. 2-seeded Burnsville (19-4-4) scored three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 35 seconds early in the second period to seize control against the No. 3 Jaguars (15-9-3).

Hunter Anderson opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal after Wittchow had taken an interference penalty. After his penalty expired, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Wittchow stepped out of the penalty box, grabbed the puck at center ice and raced in alone on Bloomington Jefferson goaltender Eric Fabano.

Wittchow fired a high shot into the upper right corner to put the Blaze ahead 2-0 just 3:23 into the second period.

Junior Jake Senta scored less than a minute after Wittchow, and Burnsville took a 4-0 lead with 9:32 left in the second on a goal by Cory Chapman.

Nick Nielsen opened the scoring for No. 3 seed Bloomington Jefferson (15-9-3) with 5:15 left in the second period.

Ryan Siiro’s power-play goal with 5:28 left in the third pulled the Jaguars to within 4-2, but Wittchow, who scored nine goals in the regular season, answered 25 seconds later with a shot from the point that got past a screened Fabano.

Engum made 16 of his saves in a first period controlled by the Jaguars. He was spectacular at times again in the third, when Jefferson unloaded 11 shots.

Fabano finished with 23 saves for the Jaguars.

Three Stars

1. Eddie Wittchow, Burnsville
The senior defenseman, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 185 pounds, handled himself like a sniper on a breakaway goal in the second period, motoring into the Jefferson zone and whipping a shot under the crossbar. Wittchow scored again in the third period with a booming shot from the point and he was a physical presence in the defensive zone all afternoon.

2. Bodhi Engum, Burnsville
Engum, a senior, isn’t afraid to clear his crease with a whack or two of his big goalie stick. He drew a penalty in the third period for high sticking, but that same nastiness in his game allowed him to elbow, push and shove his way into position to make 33 saves in a standout effort.

3. Nick Neilsen, Bloomington Jefferson
A senior forward, Neilsen scored a power-play goal in the second period and was involved in several more scoring chances.

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