Longtime White Bear Lake coach Tim Sager wasn’t happy with what he saw during the first period against rival Hill-Murray on Saturday night.
In a packed house at Vadnais Sports Center, with a charged atmosphere, his team came out tentative and perhaps a little soft. Be it nerves, caution or timidity, Sager and his staff let their feelings be known to the team during intermission.
From there, the Bears absorbed the message and applied it, rallying with a pair of second-period power-play goals to erase a one-goal deficit and take the lead against the Pioneers; then went about taming them with physicality, an aggressive forecheck, sound puck movement, and a renewed commitment to get pucks on net.
The payoff was a 3-2 victory for the Bears, ranked No. 9 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, and a continued belief in how to best play their style of game.
“Coaches told us to keep it simple and get pucks deep,” said sophomore forward Lleyton Roed. “When we started grinding and hitting everything we saw, chances started to develop and goals were scored. It was a total team effort."
Hill-Murray (6-2-0, 5-0-0) took a lead into the first intermission when sophomore forward Matthew Fleischhacker pounded home a rebound with 1 second remaining to push the No. 10-2A Pioneers ahead 2-1. It followed a goal by teammate Lucas Wahlin.
White Bear Lake pieced together a pair of power-play goals late in the second period to fight back from a one-goal deficit, topping Hill-Murray 3-2 Saturday night at Vadnais Sports Center.
Trailing 2-1 after one period, the Bears, ranked No. 9 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, came out with increased intensity in the second, playing physical and moving the puck well to set up chances.
With the man advantage, Sam Verkerke netted the equalizer with 4 minutes, 36 seconds left in the period. A short time later, sophomore forward Lleyton Roed launched a wrist shot from the left circle that found the back of the net on the far side.
The Bears (8-1-1, 6-0-1) kept the pressure on in the third, peppering the No. 10-2A Pioneers’ net with steady pressure.
Scoring in the first period for Hill-Murray (6-2-0, 5-0-0) was Lucas Wahlin and Matthew Fleischhacker.
Remington Keopple made 23 saves for the Pioneers. White Bear Lake goaltender Evan Foss stopped 22 shots.
The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.