David Zosel's game-winning goal against Delano in overtime of the Section 2A semifinal game on Tuesday, March 1, at Parade Ice Garden. Photo by Adam Crane
Almost out of nowhere late in the third period during the Section 2A semifinal game on Tuesday, March 1, Breck senior forward David Zosel found himself on a three-on-two with linemates Wesley Iverson and Thomas Lindstrom against Delano.
With the game knotted at 4-4, a dangerous loose puck came to the back door, but Zosel couldn’t tap it past Tigers’ goaltender Ryan Pinoniemi.
Not because Zosel didn’t get a handle on puck, however, but rather because he had already headed back to the Breck bench for a change.
“I was the third guy in on the three-on-two in the third period and the puck squibbled out to the back door,” Zosel said. "I skated off the ice on that one. I was really regretting it because that was my last shift of the game and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, hopefully I’ll be out there on Thursday.’
“So as a senior I was like ‘if I get another shift, I’m going hard back door every single time.’”
Bold strategy – and a successful one.
Halfway into overtime, Zosel was back on the ice and this time he wasn’t going to miss any opportunities.
“I didn’t even think I was going to get a shift out there,” Zosel said. “I crashed to the back door, Wesley (Iverson) put his head down, the puck got to me, I saw it, my eyes flew open and I pounded it in.”
The overtime goal gave Breck its first lead of the game as well as the 5-4 victory that the Mustangs needed to advance them to the Section 2A championship game with aspirations for a third straight State Tournament appearance.
“I told them we can stay here all night so don’t do anything stupid defensively,” Breck coach Les Larson said about his pre-overtime speech. “Don’t give them anything because we’re going to score a goal.
“And if it takes us all night, we can play all night. They’re not going to kick us out of here.”
Breck sophomore forward Thomas Lindstrom (left) batlles with Delano's Jered Berg (right) for the puck during the Section 2A semifinal game on Tuesday, March 1. Photo by Adam Crane
Thomas Lindstrom is on fire for Breck during this season’s postseason.
The sophomore has seven points (five goals, two assists) in two games including the hat trick he scored during the Section 2A semifinal game against Delano on Tuesday, March 1.
“Just one of those nights I guess,” Lindstrom said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Despite their youth, the Mustangs have put themselves in great position to advance to their third straight State Tournament.
“It took a long time to come back tonight,” Breck coach Les Larson said. “Normally we make up our mind and it happens right away in the second period.
“We’re such a young team, it’s a character builder for us.”
Lindstrom agreed that the win gave the Mustangs more than a trip to the Section 2A championship game.
“It was a great game,” Lindstrom said. “It shows a lot about our team. We’re a tight group of guys, we’re all there for each other. To come back like this and get a win is a little extra boost of confidence.”
After leading No. 2 seed Breck for 33:06 during regulation of the Section 2A semifinal game, Delano coach Steve Brown was not disappointed with his team but rather the result.
“Our mentality was we’re going to go win this game,” Brown said. “I was worried coming in a little bit - are we were going to be a little bit intimidated? Breck’s got the recent history and we don’t. We felt like we could go win the game. At times we got a little tense and at times we turned the puck over but I really felt like our mentality was ‘let’s go attack, let’s go attack.’
“Breck has the same mentality. So you saw this up and down the ice battle where both teams attacked. We approached it like we thought we could win this hockey game and we thought we could move on. That’s what we wanted out of the guys.”
Although there may come a time when tape is looked at and notes are taken to learn from the game, that’s not the focus for Brown and the Tigers.
“Now is a time to reflect on the season for them and I think that’s important,” Brown said. “We want to reflect on a real good season for us and a lot of accomplishments from a team perspective.”
Delano got plenty of production from its big names during the game as senior goaltender Ryan Pinoniemi made 48 saves throughout the contest.
In the final high school game of his career, senior forward and co-captain Tyler Heinonen had a hand on all four of the Tigers’ goals (two goals, two assists).
“Tyler is just a tremendous kid,” Brown said. “He has been such an asset for our program, top to bottom, that I can’t say enough about what he’s done. Whether it’s in our locker room with our guys – he’s a leader in our locker room – but he’s also a buddy to everybody. That is just neat, a lot of people don’t see that. All those guys consider him a friend.
“Then all the way throughout our program it just means a lot for us. I think he’s made people better. I think what we can do in the future is in part due to Tyler Heinonen.”
Heinonen finishes the season as the state’s overall scoring leader with 88 points (46 goals, 42 assists).
Delano senior forward Tyler Heinonen (No. 13) brings the puck in on Breck goaltender Jack Kenney (No. 30) during the Section 2A semifinal game on Tuesday, March 1. Photo by Adam Crane
David Zosel scored 4:05 into overtime and Thomas Lindstrom netted his first hat trick of the season sending Breck to a 5-4 victory over Delano and into the Section 2A final.
Tyler Heinonen, the state's scoring leader, registered a point on each Delano goal scoring four points (two goals, two assists) for the Tigers. Heinonen notched a total of 88 points (46 goals, 42 assists) this season
Delano goaltender Ryan Pinoniemi made 48 saves as the Tigers finished the season with an 18-8-1 record.
Breck (19-8-0) will play Orono in the Section 2A championship game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, at Parade Ice Garden.
Breck senior forward David Zosel. Photo by Adam Crane
1. David Zosel, Breck
The senior forward thought he had taken his last shift late in the third period. Thankfully for the Mustangs, it wasn't Zosel's last shift. Zosel camped out back door as Wesley Iverson came in hard on net and tapped home a loose puck giving Breck an overtime victory and sending them to the Section 2A final.
2. Thomas Lindstrom, Breck
One of several talented underclassmen for the Mustangs, Lindstrom netted his first hat trick of the season. The sophomore forward scored timely goals, with the first two bringing Breck within one goal and the third one being the game-tying goal. Lindstrom is having a postseason to remember - so far - with seven points (five goals, two assists) in Breck's two playoff games.
3. (tie) Tyler Heinonen, Delano
The state's scoring leader didn't fail to produce in the Section 2A semifinal matchup. Heinonen had a hand in each of the Tigers' four goals during the game (two goals, two assists) and captivated the attention of the Breck defense during each of his shifts. The senior co-captain rarely left the ice in the third period or in overtime.
3. (tie) Ryan Pinoniemi, Delano
Rarely do you see a tie for a third game star, but Pinoniemi's performance definitely needed to be mentioned. The junior goaltender was challenged early and often, frustrating Breck. Pinoniemi made 48 saves in the game and kept this game within reach for Delano until the very end.
Delano senior goaltender Ryan Pinoniemi. Photo by Adam Crane