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At the beginning of the season, Class 2A, Section 3 might have been thought of as the shallowest of eight in the big class -- at least on paper.
But with one week left before the schedule flips to the playoffs, Section 3 boasts four teams ranked in the top 20 according to the coaches’ poll. And perhaps St. Thomas Academy, last year’s section champion, might not be alone on the island after all.
Rosemount made itself heard, and made its case for earning an eventual second seed in the top heavy bracket with an convincing 5-0 shutout victory over host Eagan Saturday afternoon.
“Every year, Section 3 runs through (St. Thomas Academy),” Rosemount coach Rick Saintey said. “But everyone wants a crack at it, and everyone else is working towards it too.”
The No. 17-2A Irish converted on two of three power play chances, and received top shelf goaltending as senior Ben Garity stopped all 18 shots he faced, good for his sixth shutout of the season.
Rosemount, meanwhile, has taken a step towards a favorable section seed while chasing a South Suburban Conference title.
Rosemount (18-4, 13-3) got things started when Mason Campbell scored with the man advantage midway through the second period. In the final minute of the second -- and again on the power play -- senior Grant Horsager scored with a shot from the point, and Rosemount began to roll as the heavy pressure and double-shot ratio began to make a difference. The Irish finished outshooting No. 19-2A Eagan 36-18 , and won the edge in zone time in at least two of the three periods.
“This team, we have the weapons to cash in on our opportunities,” Horsager said. “And when are able to do that, we can rely on our goaltending to keep us in the game and keep us rolling.”
In the third, the Irish poured in three goals over a four-minute span late in the period to put away the Wildcats (13-9-1, 7-8-1). It was a promising sign from an inexperienced team still learning how to win big games consistently.
“We talk about how good teams want to finish the games, and great teams need to finish it the right way,” Saintey said. “I think we are trending in the right direction and are becoming a better team. So keeping our foot on the gas and keep working is something we will continue to strive for. I am very proud of how we finished.”
At the beginning of the final week, Rosemount holds a share of first place with Eastview (19-4, 13-3) atop the conference standings, though the Lightning hold a tiebreaker with the season sweep.
Having long since adopted a playoff mentality and looking to push its winning streak past five, Horsager said anyone would be foolish to completely dismiss Rosemount Hockey this winter.
“I don’t think anybody at the beginning of the year thought we’d be any good,” Horsager said. “It’s kind of put a chip on our shoulder when people say that (St. Thomas Academy) is 100 percent (probability) to go to state. Nothing much was expected from us this year, but as a team we felt like we can make some noise too.”
Rosemount goalie Ben Garrity made 18 saves to earn a shutout in the Irish's 5-0 victory at Eagan Saturday afternoon. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Rosemount cashed in a pair of power-play goals in the second period and finished strong to knock off rival Eagan 5-0 Saturday afternoon at Eagan Civic Arena.
The Irish, ranked No. 17 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, maintain their share of first place (along with Eastview) in the South Suburban Conference with the shutout victory, and took a step towards securing a No. 2 seed in the upcoming Class 2A, Section 3 playoffs.
Rosemount (18-4, 13-3) opened the scoring when Mason Campbell scored with the man advantage midway through the second period, and the Irish were on their way. In the final minute of the period, senior defenseman Grant Horsager scored with a shot from the point, and Rosemount began to roll as the heavy pressure and double shot ratio began to make a difference.
In the third period, No. 19-2A Eagan’s early pressure yielded nothing, while the Irish buried three more goals over the final four minutes to finish off the Wildcats (13-9-1, 7-8-1).
Irish senior goalie Ben Garrity stopped all 18 shots he faced to earn the shutout, his sixth of the season.
At the other end, Eagan’s Brandon Toussaint took the loss. The senior stopped 31 of 36 shots he faced.
The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.