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Orono center's faceoff success provides a sturdy starting point

By David La Vaque and Loren Nelson, Star Tribune staff writers, 03/10/18, 11:13PM CST


Orono's Landon Wittenberg leads the season highlight reel with his game-winning goal. But his many victories at the faceoff dot also meant a great deal to his team’s success.

Orono High School forward Landon Wittenberg (13) celebrated with his teammates after scoring in the third period. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE � anthony.souffle@startribune.com

Orono’s Landon Wittenberg leads the season highlight reel with his game-winning goal. But his many victories at the faceoff dot also meant a great deal to his team’s success.

Wittenberg, a third-line center, went 11-1 on the draw against Alexandria, helping ignite the Spartans after a sluggish first period starting plays.

“He told me about halfway through the second period, ‘I got this figured out,’ ” Orono coach Will Scholz said.

Wittenberg wasn’t boasting. He studies his craft, and results follow.

“Yeah, I said on the bench, ‘I’m not losing any more draws,’ ” Wittenberg said. “I kind of watch what a guy does once and once he beats me with that, usually he doesn’t beat me with it again because I’m going to take that away. I just strive to always win those little puck battles.”

Alexandria’s rock in goal

A bad bounce made a big difference in Orono’s 2-1 championship game victory. But Alexandria goaltender Jackson Boline was a difference-maker throughout the tournament.

He blanked Thief River Falls in the quarterfinals. Hermantown outshot the Cardinals 34-23 in the semifinals but beat Moline just once. And he kept his team in a position to win even as Orono outshot the Cardinals 27-16.

“That way he played was the reason we were in that game,” teammate Jack Westlund said. “And he had nothing to be ashamed of. He played unbelievable all year, especially in the playoffs. Without him we wouldn’t have been in this game tonight.”

Hounds come home

Adam Coole, goaltender on Duluth East’s 1998 state championship team and the best captain coach Mike Randolph said he’s ever had, addressed the Greyhounds before Friday’s victory over Edina. He and Dave Spehar, catalyst of the Greyhounds’ 1995 title team, spoke to the team before Saturday morning’s practice.

That meant the program’s two top scorers, Spehar and senior Garrett Worth, finally met. Worth entered Saturday’s title game with 47 goals this season. Spehar tallied 58 in 1995 and 54 a year later.

Third-place games

No. 1 seed Hermantown blanked No. 2 seed Mahtomedi 4-0 in the Class 1A third-place game. Justin Thomas scored twice and goaltender Austin Hess stopped all 27 shots faced.

In Class 2A, Edina overwhelmed Centennial 11-0, scoring four shorthanded goals. Sammy Walker scored twice and had three assists. Linemate Mason Nevers added two goals and two assists. Defenseman Ben Brinkman notched a goal and three assists.


Two Aaron Myers goals fueled a 5-1 Thief River Falls victory for the Class 1A consolation title. Leading Mankato East 2-1 after two periods, the Prowlers added three goals in the final period.

In Class 2A, Rob Christy’s hat trick propelled St. Thomas Academy’s 6-2 defeat of St. Michael-Albertville. The victorious Cadets outshot the Knights 35-20 for their third consolation title in four seasons.

Herb Brooks Award

Boline received the Herb Brooks Award for Class 1A. The award is given to players who best represent the former coach’s values and character.

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