|2/25/2022 11:10:00 AM|
Wildcats finish regular season with one goal games
Chisago Lakes 5, St. Paul Johnson 0
Ryan Schmidt had a goal and three assists to lead the Wildcats to a 5-0 shellacking of the St. Paul Johnson Governors Tuesday, February 15 at Phalen Arena in St. Paul. The Wildcats dominated the wide-open game from start to finish, outshooting the Governors 57-23 for the game. Wildcat goalie Zach Carlson stopped all 23 shots he faced to earn the second shutout of his 6-0 senior season.
After a scoreless first period, Nik Jinks scored just 19 seconds into the second period and the Wildcats never looked back. Nate Bluhm and Schmidt picked up the assists on Jinks’ goal. Schmidt scored with two minutes left in the period, assisted by Jinks and Bluhm, to put the Wildcats up 2-0. Nick Helland put one into the back of the net just over four minutes into the third period, assisted by two familiar faces – Schmidt and Bluhm. Cullen Dorcas scored a power play goal midway through the third period, with assists going to Helland and Schmidt. Jinks scored an unassisted goal with two-and-a-half minutes left in the game to make the final score 5-0.
Chisago Lakes 5, Dodge County 4
Jack Bakken scored at 14:09 of the third period to break a 4-4 and gave the Wildcats a 5-4 win over the Dodge County Wildcats Thursday, February 17 at Chisago Lakes Arena. Dodge County outshot Chisago Lakes 44-25 for the game, but goalie Jack Hanson kept his team in it, stopping 40 of the 44 shots he faced.
Nik Jinks scored with 8 seconds left in the first period, assisted by Nick Helland, to give Chisago Lakes a 1-0 lead. The teams combined to score five goals in a busy second period. Cullen Dorcas scored two minutes into the period, assisted by Owen Garvey and Ben Jinks, to put Chisago Lakes up 2-0. Dodge County scored to cut the lead to one at 4:33, but Timothy Madden responded just 47 seconds later for Chisago Lakes to make the score 3-1. Dorcas and Ashton Edson picked up the assists. Dodge County scored two more goals in the period, including a power goal with 43 seconds remaining, to tie the game at 3-3. Ryan Schmidt scored for Chisago Lakes at 7:37 of the third period, assisted by Jinks and Helland, to put Chisago Lakes up 4-3. But Dodge County scored at 10:58 to tie the game at 4-4, setting the stage for game-winning heroics by Bakken and Hanson.
On Bakken’s winning goal, Drake Thyen’s shot from the right circle missed the net and ended up in the left corner. Cam Stangl chased the puck into the corner, spun and sent it to Thyen, who was curling behind the net from right to left. Bakken charged the net and Thyen put a pass right on his stick a few feet in front of the crease. Bakken one-timed it through the five-hole to put Chisago Lakes up 5-4. Just under a minute later, Hanson dove to stop a stuff attempt at the right post and covered the rebound to freeze the puck and seal the win for Chisago Lakes.
Tartan 4, Chisago Lakes 3
Chet Bertelsen scored a power play goal 44 seconds into overtime to give the Class AA Tartan Titans (15-9-1) a 4-3 win over the Class A Wildcats in the final game of the regular season. The game was played Saturday, February 19 at Chisago Lakes Arena.
The Titans scored in the game’s first minute and added a goal midway through the period to go up 2-0. At 14:53 of the period, Nick Helland scored a goal just six seconds into a power play, assisted by Ryan Schmidt and Nate Bluhm, to cut the Tartan lead to 2-1. Ben Jinks tied it up for the Wildcats just 52 seconds into the second period, with assists going to Helland and Andrew Swanson. Tartan took the lead midway through the period. With the Wildcats on a power play in the last few seconds of the period, Nik Jinks ripped a wrist shot from the middle of the shot over the net. The puck banged high off the glass and dropped in front of Cullen Dorcas just outside the left post. Dorcas quickly jammed the puck inside the post with one second left in the period to tie the game at 3-3.
The Wildcats took a penalty with 49 seconds left in a scoreless third period, so the Titans began overtime with a one-man advantage. On the winning goal, Bertelsen carried a drop pass almost to the right corner and took a low angle shot that snuck past Wildcat goalie Jack Hanson and into the back of the net to give the Titan’s the 4-3 win. Tartan outshot the Wildcats 36-34 for the game, and Bakken stopped 32 of the 36 shots he faced. The Wildcats head into the playoffs with a solid performance against a very good class AA team.
The Wildcats (19-5-1 overall), tied with the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets for the top spot in the Mississippi 8 Conference, with both teams going 10-2 in conference play. Having finished the regular season ranked eighth in the state after playing a tough schedule, it looked like the Wildcats were poised to be the number one seed in the Section 4A playoffs.
The Wildcats were seeded third by the coaches’ vote. The unranked Mahtomedi Zephyrs (13-11-1) played an even tougher schedule than the Wildcats and finished with a QRF score of 8. The Wildcats had a QRF of 11, so there was some logic to seeding the Zephyrs above the Wildcats. But it didn’t make any sense to give the unranked Simley Spartans (17-8-1) the second seed. Simley had a QRF of 16, well below the Wildcats. Simley did play against a lot more section teams in the regular season, gong 11-1 against section opponents. The Wildcats were just 2-0 in section play. So, were they punished because of too few section games? That logic doesn’t make sense, because Mahtomedi only played four section games, going 4-0. In my opinion, the reason the Wildcats were snubbed in the seeding was that they are an outlier. Most of the teams in Section 4A are in St. Paul, and it was simply St. Paul bias at work.
Whatever the reason, the seedings are set. The Wildcats, Mahtomedi and Simley are the only teams in the section with a realistic chance of making it to the state tournament. The other five teams in the section are all in the bottom half of the Class A QRF rankings. So, while a first round upset by one of those bottom five is possible, none of them have the capability to go 3-0 against the big three.
The Wildcats will start the playoffs against the sixth-seeded St. Paul Academy Spartans (8-16-1) tomorrow night at Chisago Lakes Arena at 8 p.m. If the Wildcats win and move on to the semifinals, they will play at Roseville Ice Arena next Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m., most likely against Simley. Here’s where the seedings matter, because Simley, as the higher-seeded team, gets the last change before any faceoff, allowing them to match up however they see fit against the Wildcat lines.
But the Wildcat are well-suited to overcome that slight advantage. By over a goal per game, they are the highest scoring team in the section. They are led by Ryan Schmidt, who is ninth in that state with 67 total points. With Schmidt, Nick Helland, Nate Bluhm, and Ben and Nik Jinks, among others, the Wildcats are an offensive force to be reckoned with. With a good defense and solid goaltender in senior Jack Hanson, the Wildcats have a realistic chance of making it to the state tournament this year.