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Minnetonka kicks off The Opener with overtime win against St. Thomas Academy

By Loren Nelson, SportsEngine, 11/23/17, 10:00AM CST


Five different Skippers scored in their season opener against the Cadets.

First-year Minnetonka coach Sean Goldsworthy had a successful debut with the Skippers, defeating St. Thomas Academy 5-4 in overtime. Photo by Loren Nelson, LegacyHockeyPhotography.net

One game into a highly unconventional reboot of a coaching career, Sean Goldsworthy is undefeated. Better yet, he’s having the time of his life.

“I just told the boys that if I had known it was this much fun to coach high school hockey, I would have done it 10 years ago,” Goldsworthy said on Friday after leading Minnetonka to a 5-4 overtime victory over St. Thomas Academy at Bloomington Ice Garden in the season opener for both teams.

Goldsworthy, the former longtime head coach at Division III St. Olaf College in Northfield, is a Minnetonka High School alum whose success at the college level seemingly had him positioned for a bigger and better coaching gig. Instead, after a year-plus hiatus from coaching, he went down a level.

Well, sort of.

Goldsworthy has said he has more top-end talent on his Skippers team than he ever had coaching in college. Three Minnetonka players have already committed to Division I colleges, and there’s another six or more players on the team who could reach that level.

Every last drop of that skill and ability was needed to get past St. Thomas Academy, another team oozing with Division I-caliber talent. Minnetonka was ranked No. 4 and St. Thomas Academy No. 5 in Class 2A in the state in the coaches’ preseason poll.

“Young, high school kids are emotional, and they play with a ton of passion and fun,” Goldsworthy said. “You’ve just got to find a way to coral it.

“There’s a lot of talent on the ice, so you can do some fun things.”

One of those future Division I players, Northern Michigan commit Josh Luedtke, a junior defenseman, scored the winning goal with 3:12 left in overtime after jumping into the play on a Minnetonka rush into the St. Thomas Academy (0-1) zone. He took a cross ice pass from Nick Henry and rocketed a shot over Cadets goaltender Muzzy Donohue’s catching glove.

“Our D coaches definitely stress just getting up in the play,” said Luedtke, who scored two goals in 27 games last season. “My forward there, Nic Henry, he definitely made a great play on the wall there. It was a great pass, and as soon as I got it I just shot it right away.”

Henry, a sophomore promoted from the fourth to third line because of an injury to senior winger Ryan Elder, was one of several Skippers (1-0) who had their fingerprints on the winning play. Mitch Gannon, another third-liner, got the sequence started by winning a defensive zone faceoff. Dave Andes, the third member of the third line, then chipped a puck off the boards to the neutral zone, where Henry gained control. Then it was up to Luedtke to finish the play.

“What a shot,” Minnetonka sophomore Bobby Brink said. “Great pass, too.”

Minnetonka and St. Thomas Academy have a long history of playing early season games that are highly competitive. This year’s matchup, part of the Youth Hockey Hub’s The Opener four-team tournament, came a little earlier on the calendar than usual but certainly lived up to expectations.

“I suppose that when you go to open your season, you might not want to start with a team like Minnetonka,” St. Thomas Academy co-head coach Tom Vanelli said. “But you know what, you play the good ones as often as you can. The better they are, the better it is. It was a great test for us.”

Ryan O'Neill scores a first-period goal for St. Thomas Academy. Photo by Loren Nelson, SportsEngine

Ryan O'Neill scores a first-period goal for St. Thomas Academy. Minnetonka beat the Cadets 5-4 in overtime at the Bloomington Ice Garden Friday night. Photo by Loren Nelson, LegacyHockeyPhotography.net

First Report

Minnetonka goaltender Charlie Glockner prepared to make a save as defenseman Dylan Heiam protects the crease. Photo by Loren Nelson, LegacyHockeyPhotography.net

Junior defenseman Josh Luedtke scored with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left in overtime to lift Minnetonka to a 5-4 victory over St. Thomas Academy on Friday at the Bloomington Ice Garden in the opening game of the Youth Hockey Hub’s The Opener.

Minnetonka entered as the state’s No. 4-ranked team in the Class 2A coaches' poll, while St. Thomas Academy is ranked No. 5. It was the season opener for both teams.

Luedtke, who has committed to play at Northern Michigan, jumped into the play as the Skippers won a defensive zone faceoff and worked the puck into the St. Thomas Academy end. He scored off a quick shot that beat Cadets junior goaltender Muzzy Donohue, a backup filling in for injured senior starter Atticus Kelly.

St. Thomas Academy defenseman Blake Holmes forced the overtime when he scored with 5:34 remaining.

The Cadets led 2-1 after the first period, only to see Minnetonka score three straight goals spanning part of the opening period and all of the second.

Luke Loheit, Jack Bayless, Teddy Lagerback and Joe Molenaar also scored for Minnetonka, which got 26 saves from goaltender Charlie Glockner.

Ryan O’Neill, Rob Christy and Brendan McFadden also scored for St. Thomas Academy. Donohue finished with 22 saves.

Photo Gallery

Josh Luedtke scores game-winner in OT for Minnetonka

Jack Bayless scores second-period goal for Minnetonka

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