Minnetonka's Jack Bayless, left, celebrates a third-period goal with Bobby Brink. The Skippers defeated Chaska 5-2. Photo by Helen Nelson, legacyhockeyphotography.net
Bayless and Brink. Brink and Bayless.
The bond between Minnetonka’s irrepressible duo of sophomore Bobby Brink and junior Jack Bayless is as unmistakable as it is unbreakable.
How good are these guys together? Four coaches in three leagues spanning the last three-plus years have deemed it wise pair the B2B duo on the same forward line. The results have included a Bantam AA state championship, Upper Midwest High School Elite League regular season and playoff championships and, so far this high school season, a No. 2 big-school ranking and undefeated record.
“They have the ability to see each other at different levels of the ice,” Minnetonka coach Sean Goldsworthy said on Saturday night after the Skippers held off upset-minded Chaska 5-2 to improve to 8-0-1. “They certainly have some chemistry. They genuinely enjoy playing with each other.”
Why wouldn’t they? Bayless, a junior, has scored seven goals in nine games this season. Five of them were set up by Brink, a sophomore who has committed to play at Denver. The story was much the same last high school season, when Bayless scored seven goals in 27 games (including the playoffs), six of them coming courtesy of Brink feeds.
In between, the duo spent this fall helping Team Southwest win the Elite League’s regular season and playoff championships. Bayless scored nine goals in 21 regular season games and added two more in three playoff games. Brink had 10 regular season goals, two more in the playoffs and 29 total points in 24 games.
“We just see each other so well,” Bayless said. “We’ve been playing together for so long. Playing with him makes the game so much easier.”
Bayless scored twice in the third period in Saturday’s victory. Both, of course, came courtesy of Brink’s playmaking. Bayless’ second goal came after Brink circled the Chaska defense like a vulture sizing up its prey, mesmerizing the Hawks before eventually feeding Bayless near the right face-off dot for a quick shot into the back of the net.
“I figured he was just looking for his space,” Bayless said about Brink’s circuitous route around the Chaska defense. “He was drawing their whole team, they were all just looking at him. I just tried to find a little weak spot, because I knew he would find me. That’s just what he does.”
The goal effectively dashed the last of any Chaska upset hopes. The Hawks, although outshot 47 to 22, used breakaway goals by Rhett Pitlick and Shane Lavelle to keep pace with Minnetonka.
“It was a great measuring stick for our group, and we played really good,” Chaska coach Dave Snuggerud said. “We came out of there believing we can compete at a high level.”
Like most teams, the Hawks had no answer for Brink and Bayless. Brink shares the Skippers’ scoring lead this season with 15 points (three goals, 12 assists). Bayless is second with 13 points, and his seven goals ties him for the team lead.
There’s no disputing their relationship is mutually beneficial.
“I have no problem playing with Bobby,” Bayless said.
“Same,” said Brink.
Minnetonka's Bobby Brink, left, stays a step ahead of Chaska's Billy Bronson. Photo by Helen Nelson, legacyhockeyphotography.net
Jack Bayless scored twice in the third period off passes from linemate Bobby Brink as Minnetonka, ranked second in Class 2A in the latest state coaches’ poll, held off unranked Chaska 5-2 on Saturday night at the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
Bayless and Brink, Minnetonka’s “Killer B’s” who have been skating on the same line since they won a state Bantam AA championship together two seasons ago, connected 4:10 into the third period to put the Skippers (8-0-1) ahead 3-1.
A breakaway goal by Chaska’s Shane Lavelle just more than 3 minutes later pulled the Hawks (6-2-0) to within 3-2, but Bayless scored again with 3:26 left to regain the Skippers’ two-goal cushion.
Ryan Elder’s empty net goal clinched the victory for Minnetonka. The Skippers outshot Chaska 47-17.
Rhett Pitlick also scored on a breakaway for Chaska. Mitch McGannon and David Andes scored the other Minnetonka goals.
Chaska goaltender Justin Bach was outstanding in his 42-save performance. Charlie Glockner made 15 saves for Minnetonka, which is scheduled to play No. 1 ranked Edina at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the first round of the Schwan Cup Gold Division at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
The MN Hockey Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.