Orono senior forward Ross Luedtke (no. 12) celebrates his game-winning goal that came with 20 seconds left in the third period against Blake during the Section 2A semifinal game on Tuesday, March 1. Photo by Adam Crane
Words such as awesome, insane and unbelievable were used to describe Orono’s 3-2 upset victory over No. 1 seeded Blake in the Section 2A semifinal on Tuesday, March 1.
Hard to argue with those adjectives.
“That was awesome, just a roller coaster,” Orono senior forward Ross Luedtke said. “We got up quick and they came back hard. They went up on us, we came back, fought hard, pucks went in and this is crazy.”
Orono senior forward Ross Luedtke (right) fires a shot on Blake goaltender Devon Johnson as Johnny Austin (left) looks on during the Section 2A semifinal game on Tuesday, March 1. Photo by Adam Crane
The game started with early fireworks for the Spartans as Luedtke netted a quick goal 36 seconds into the first period.
“We were just flying on the forecheck, went and played the body hard, Luedtke said. “Crosby Sampson gave me a good pass. I was just sitting in front, good spot and tapped it right in.”
After the early goal, however, the Spartans were held scoreless until the final minute of the third period.
With 1:01 remaining in the game and his team down 2-1 Orono coach Aaron Johnson called timeout to pull goaltender Matt Peterson for an extra skater and a shot at tying the game as well as a few words with his team.
Well, really just one word.
“The key word for tonight was ‘moment,’” Johnson said. “I told those kids ‘you have 1:01 left to live in the moment, go out there and play as hard as you can for 1:01 and see what happens’ and they did that and more tonight.”
With 47 seconds left in the third period, a puck bounced into the back of the Blake net after a centering pass was sent towards traffic in front. Luedtke was credited with the goal but wasn’t done with his late game heroics.
A mere 27 seconds later, Luedtke made a push into the Blake zone with his eyes on the back of the net.
“The puck was there and I just said ‘I’m going for it,’” Luedtke said. “Just caught a toe, went down, pulled it across, through it on net, puck went in. The bounce went with me.”
The goal was Luedtke’s – and most importantly Orono’s – third goal of the game and was the eventual game-winner.
“That was unbelievable,” Johnson said. “We have a great group of kids and we told them to play 51 minutes – and they played 51 minutes tonight – against a great hockey team. To come out with a win, that was fun.
“That was a great high school hockey game, just fun to be a part of.”
Besides the upset victory for his team, Johnson was pleased with the effort and result from his star senior forward.
“Ross (Luedtke) was there to make it 3-2,” Johnson said. “That was just a great individual effort by a great player. He’s the complete player and he made a special play there to win the game for us. Kid that deserves everything he’s got, he’s just a hell of a kid.”
Orono senior goaltender (No. 30) dives to make one of his 25 saves during the Section 2A semifinal game against Blake on Tuesday, March 1. Photo by Adam Crane
While victory music blared and Orono players cheered their upset victory, the Blake locker room featured an extremely somber attitude.
“It’s an unbelievable finish,” Blake coach John Hamre said. “You just feel numb for the players on our team – they’re such a great group of kids.
“No other way to describe it.”
While Orono took over in the last minute of the Section 2A semifinal game on Tuesday, March 1, Hamre doesn’t think his team played poorly at the end.
“Well we kept our composure and they pulled their goaltender and had a six-on-five attack,” Hamre said. “I thought we played it well but it took a funny bounce and it got in the net.”
Still, the loss stunned the Blake fans as well as the senior-heavy Bears.
“It’s a really special group of kids, it’s a great group of kids,” Hamre said. “They have a lot of memories both as hockey players and friends.
“Just a very, very hard and numbing way to end a very good season by a great group of players.”
Blake senior forward George Ordway (No. 16) attempts a deke on Orono goaltender Matt Peterson during the Section 2A semifinal game on Tuesday, March 1. Photo by Adam Crane
Orono's Ross Luedtke
Ross Luedtke scored two goals in 27 seconds with under one minute remaining in the third period to lift Orono to an upset victory over Blake in the Section 2A semifinal on Tuesday, March 1.
Along with the two late-game goals, Luedtke also scored a goal 36 seconds into the game giving the senior forward his third hat trick of the season - his second hat trick in two postseason games this year.
Senior goaltender Matt Peterson made 25 saves for the Spartans (17-9-1).
Blake netminder Devon Johnson made 24 saves as the Bears ended the season with a 21-4-2 record.
Christopher Chute and Ryan Bullock each scored for Blake.
Next up for Orono is the Section 2A championship game on Thursday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. against No. 2 seed Breck at Parade Ice Garden.
Orono senior goaltender Matt Peterson. Photo by Adam Crane
1. Ross Luedtke, Orono
Easy choice for the top star, Luedtke had an amazing hat trick with goals coming at both the front and tail end of the game. Three total goals to be exact. The senior forward scored his second straight hat trick in as many playoff games and his third of the season. Luedtke netted his first goal 36 seconds into the first period and then took over as "Mr. Clutch" late in the third period. With the Orono goaltender pulled and 47 seconds remaining, a crazy bounce gave Luedtke his second goal of the game and tied the game at 2-2 for the Spartans. After an impressive effort in the Blake zone, uedtke would finish his heroic hat trick 27 seconds later notching the game-winner for Orono.
2. Matt Peterson, Orono
While Luedtke handled the score, Peterson frustrated Blake's offense. The senior netminder made 25 saves - several coming at crucial times such as during Orono's five penalty kills. With Blake's high powered offense, the Spartans needed a big game from their netminder and they got it.
3. Ryan Bullock, Blake
Along with stellar defensive play, Bullock assisted on the game-tying goal and scored the go-ahead goal for Blake. The senior defenseman grabbed a loose puck during a big hit near center ice, brought the puck into the Orono zone hard and sniped the top right corner of the net. Bullock continued to show how tough and dangerous he can be in at both ends of the ice.
Blake senior defenseman Ryan Bullock. Photo by Adam Crane