Orono forward Billy Lynch (8) took a short-handed shot on Alexandria goaltender Jackson Boline (30) in the first period of the Class 1A championship. Star Tribune photo by Anthony Souffle
Orono goaltender Evan Babekuhl ripped off his facemask and heaved it skyward even as the scoreboard hadn't finished counting down to zero.
Never mind that it was a one-goal game and the puck was within spitting distance of the net.
Why not start the victory party early?
“We have kind of been waiting for this for a long time,” Orono senior Thomas Walker said on Saturday after the No. 3-seeded Spartans won their first state hockey championship by beating No. 4 seed Alexandria 2-1 in the Class 1A title game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Orono forward Thomas Walker (23) celebrated with his teammates after scoring in the first period. Star Tribune photo by Anthony Souffle
1. Landon Wittenberg, Orono, junior
He helped the Spartans secure their first championship in the third period by slamming a crazy carom off the end boards into a gaping net for the winning goal. The center also was a master in the faceoff circle, winning 11 of 12 draws
2. Thomas Walker, Orono, senior
He energized the Spartans with the opening goal in the first period, his fourth of the tournament. He played his captain’s role to the hilt, too, encouraging his teammates to play aggressive despite protecting a one-goal lead for much of the third.
3. Jackson Boline, Alexandria, senior
The goaltender needed to be razor sharp for his third game in as many days, this time standing tall while under siege during five consecutive Orono power plays (Alexandria killed them all). Boline finished with 25 saves.
Alexandria goaltender Jackson Boline (30) smothered the puck in the second period during the Cardinals' 2-1 loss to the Spartans. Star Tribune photo by Anthony Souffle