White Bear Lake's Mac Jansen lay dejected on the ice after the Bears lost to Duluth East in the second overtime. Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune
White Bear Lake’s Mac Jansen never made an A-level youth hockey team. But he kept working and built himself into the Bears’ leading goal scorer as a senior this season.
He entered the Class 2A state tournament with 35 goals, all of which he would have traded for a victory in Thursday’s quarterfinal game against No. 3 seed Duluth East. For a moment, he seemed to have the best of both worlds.
Jansen’s goal off a rebound with 10.3 seconds remaining would have likely moved White Bear Lake into the semifinals for the first time. But officials waived it off because Max Birkinbine’s initial shot drew a high-stick call.
The game moved to a second overtime before the Greyhounds escaped with a 4-3 victory.
Jansen, on the ice for the final goal, fell to the ice and laid on his stomach. The player who earned the nickname “Quadzilla” for his torrid offseason squat workouts needed teammates’ encouragement to rise from the ice.
Jansen’s no-goal marked the second time in the final minute of regulation White Bear Lake fell just short. The missed opportunities took a different feel considering White Bear Lake’s state tournament history.
The Bears are now 0-18 in quarterfinal games, a statistical oddity some call a curse.
“We outplayed the curse,” Bears coach Tim Sager said. “We just couldn’t get one to go in.”
Surviving two overtime games in the Section 4 playoffs — highlighted by a double-overtime victory against long-time nemesis and top-ranked Hill-Murray — gave players confidence that somehow, no matter what, their efforts would be rewarded.
“Coming into the tournament I had very high expectations,” Jansen said. “I knew we had the squad that could do it, especially going through two overtime games in the sections. It just stinks.”
The momentum failed to carry over to Thursday’s game. Tentative play caused the Bears to fall behind 2-0 halfway through the second period.
Then Brandon Wahlin scored twice to tie the game. Duluth East regained a third period lead that held until the Bears’ Mitch Morrisette tied the game 3-3 with less than four minutes to play.
From there, White Bear Lake did everything but score the clinching goal. Less than one minute remained in regulation when Morrisette fired a rebound of his own shot into the glove of Greyhounds goaltender JoJo Jeanetta. Then, Jansen’s goal was waved off, one of the near-misses running on a continuous loop in his head.
Early in the second overtime, a White Bear Lake shot from the red line took a funny bounce and nearly fooled Jeanetta, who kicked the puck away with no time to spare.
“It’s going to be tough to get to sleep tonight, I’ll tell you that,” Jansen said.
White Bear Lake's Mitch Morrisette, left, celebrated his goal with Mac Jansen. Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune