February 4, 2010 at 9:33 a.m.
Brett Lizotte's goal 30 seconds into overtime gave him a hat trick and gave the Wildcat boys' hockey team a 5-4 win over eleventh-ranked Class AA Spring Lake Park last Tuesday, January 26 at Chisago Lakes Arena. The Wildcats overcame a lot in this one, having three goals waved off as they tried to build a lead over the Panthers. The win avenged a 7-1 loss to the Panthers earlier this season. Kyle Buchanan once again played well in the nets for the Wildcats, stopping 42 of the 46 shots he faced as the Wildcats were outshot 46-30 for the game.
The Wildcats jumped on the board just 90 seconds into the game. Skating with a man advantage, Matt Petersen passed the puck to Andrew Habel along the right boards. Habel moved the puck to Lizotte in the right corner, and the two quick passes allowed Habel to walk out of the corner uncontested to the front of the net. He waited till the goalie dropped, and then put the puck into the open net on the left side to give the Wildcats an early lead.
Skating five-on-three with less than three minutes left in the period, the Wildcats won a draw deep in the Panther zone. After some good puck movement, Tommy Johnson passed the puck to Petersen. Petersen skated into the middle of the slot and ripped a slapshot into the upper right corner of the net to put the Wildcats up 2-0.
The Wildcats scored a shorthanded goal just over a minute into the second period. Tyler Henderson cleared the puck off the glass along the right side over a Panther defenseman. Jeff Sargeant barely beat another Panther player to the puck along the right boards near center, chipping the puck toward Tommy Johnson moving down the left side. Johnson put a snapshot over the goalie's glove and into the net to increase the Wildcat lead to 3-0. But Spring Lake Park scored 30 seconds later on the same power play to cut the lead back to two.
Lizotte had a goal waved off in the second period. His slapshot hit the back crossbar in the net and bounded out, but none of the three blind mice saw the puck go in. They huddled for a couple of minutes to discuss it, but could not call it a goal because none of them had seen it. Later in the period, Matt Petersen ripped a slapshot from the high slot that beat the goalie as well. The puck appeared to cross the goal line before the net popped off seemingly all by itself, but the officials again disallowed the goal.
After the Panthers scored at the 4:30 mark of the third period to cut the Wildcat lead to one, Lizotte answered just over a minute later. Taking a pass in the left corner from Habel, Lizotte came to the front of the net and quickly slipped a backhand into the right side of the goal to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead.
The Wildcats appeared to score another goal late in the third period, but it was waved off because of alleged goalie interference on the part of Cole DuBose. Replays showed that DuBose never actually touched the goalie.
On a Panther power play later in the period, a Panther player ripped a slapshot from just inside the blue line that sailed under the crossbar in the upper left corner of the net to pull within one. They tied it on a scrum goal at the 12:27 mark. The Wildcats took a penalty a minute later, but had one of their best penalty kills of the season as they never let the Panthers get comfortable and held them without a shot.
The Panthers got a little too aggressive in front of the Wildcat net and took a dumb penalty with just 20 seconds left in regulation. Early in overtime, the Wildcats carried the puck into the Panther end. Petersen chipped the puck low to Habel along the right boards, and Habel sent the puck to Lizotte in the right corner. Lizotte again walked out with the puck to the front of the net and surprised the goalie with a quick top shelf shot for the winner. The crowd in the Arena erupted. The players piled on each other in front of the student session as the fans roared with delight. The Wildcats have been playing very well lately, and this was their signature win so far this season.
"That was a good win all around," said Wildcat head coach Corey McKinnon. "Our special teams really stepped it up, scoring three power play goals and a shorthanded one. I'm proud of our players because they worked out improvements in the power play themselves. Out top power play unit is becoming deadly. All three of Brett Lizotte's goals came off similar plays out of the corner. He's got great hands and is also taking advantage of his size and strength. Brett practices that play a lot in practice and it's paid off for him."
"I was frustrated with having three goals waved off," continued McKinnon, "but I was proud of our kids for overcoming adversity. It was a good life lesson for us. We didn't hang our heads or let questionable calls dictate the rest of the game for us. We persevered, played to the finish and came up with a big win. I couldn't be more proud of our players."
Benilde-St. Margaret's 4, Chisago Lakes 1
Wildcat goaltender Kyle Buchanan set a school record with 63 saves against Benilde-St. Margaret's, eclipsing the Wildcats' single game record of 56 set in 2005 by his cousin Tommy Fitzer. But the tenth-ranked Class AA Red Knights outscored the Wildcats 3-0 on power plays on their way to a 4-1 win over the Wildcats last Saturday, January 30 at Chisago Lakes Arena. Andrew Habel scored the Wildcats' only goal of the game in the second period, assisted by Cole DuBose.
Despite being outshot 67-18 for the game, the Wildcats actually played pretty well. Better bounces on a few pucks lying in front of the Benilde net could have made the game a lot closer.
"Kyle played really well in the nets for us," said McKinnon, "making all the saves we needed him to make. He doesn't have to carry us in order for us to succeed. He just needs to play well in order to give us an opportunity to win games. And he has been doing that for us lately.'
The Wildcats seem to be stepping up their play as the section tournament approaches, and McKinnon came up with a couple of examples of support for that notion. He said "Earlier this season, we lost to Spring Lake Park 7-1. Last Tuesday, we beat them 5-4. Benilde pounded us 13-4 earlier in the year, but we were able to keep it close against them this time. Additionally, we've already beaten several teams we lost to last year. We had a good week last week. We're really starting to piece it together and we should be able to keep it going through the playoffs."
McKinnon praised the play of junior defenseman Kyle Hagglund. "I couldn't be more pleased with the way Kyle is playing," he said. "Even while he was playing forward last year, we knew he had very good defensive skills. He's a smart, coachable kid. His one-on-one play has come a long way and both ends of the ice. In the defensive zone, he has developed a knack for stay with an oncoming player and eliminating him from the play. He has helped to make a strong defensive unit, which also contains Tyler Henderson, Matt Petersen and Jon Edstrom, even stronger."
The Wildcats host Robbinsdale Cooper tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Chisago Lakes Arena. Monday, February 8 they will take on Totino Grace at Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis at 7 p.m.