January 13, 2011 at 9:28 a.m.
The tournament turned out to be a great experience for the Wildcats, even if the level of competition was a few steps down from what the Wildcats will face in the North Suburban Conference starting this Saturday against Benilde-St. Margaret's. The Wildcats won the tournament, going 3-0, to accomplish their main goal. "Our secondary goal for the week was to have a good team bonding experience," said Wildcat head coach Corey McKinnon. "I am happy to say we accomplished both goals. We have a large group of seniors graduating this season and I am glad they had a chance to have this experience."
Chisago Lakes 5, Black River Falls 3
Kyle Hagglund celebrated his return to the ice from injury in a big way by picking up a hat trick and two assists as the Wildcats beat Black River Falls 5-3 in the opening game of the tournament last Tuesday, December 28.
Andrew Habel scored twice in the opening period, both time assisted by Hagglund, to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Matt Stamos also picked up an assist on the second goal. Going into the second period, it looked like the Wildcats were well in control of this one. But things got out of hands as the teams combined for eleven penalties in the period. Black River Falls scored three goals in the first six-and-a-half minutes of the period, including one on the power play, to take a surprising 3-2 lead. But Hagglund scored the tying goal with five minutes left in the period.
Hagglund scored again just 3:47 into the third period, assisted by Stamos and Riley Doriott, to give the Wildcats the lead. Almost exactly halfway through the period, Hagglund added an insurance goal to complete his hat trick, assisted by Cory Lushanko and Bradee Thompson.
"We had to battle through some adversity in this one," said Wildcat head coach Corey McKinnon. "After we outshot them 18-1 in the first period, we relaxed and they got three quick goals - bing, bing, bing. But our guys never displayed a sense of panic; they just came back and took care of business. Kyle Hagglund had a huge night for us. In addition to the five points, he played well defensively. And I think Brett Lizotte hit about six pipes in this one. We were within a few inches of making this a blowout."
Chisago Lakes 6, Sparta/West Salem/Bangor 2
Brett Lizotte and Ory Burggraff scored two goals apiece to lead the Wildcats to a 6-2 win over Sparta in the second game of the tournament last Wednesday. December 29. Andrew Habel and Cory Lushanko were the playmakers in this one, picking up three assists each.
The game was scoreless until Lizotte broke the ice with an unassisted goal with just two minutes left in the period. Burggraff scored just one minute later, assisted by Matt Stamos and Habel, to give the Wildcats a two-goal lead. But Sparta scored with 19 seconds left in the period to pull within one.
Lizotte scored early in the second period, assisted by Habel and Lushanko, to push the Wildcat lead back to two goals. Danny Kimlinger scored a power play goal later in the period, assisted by Habel, to make the score 4-2. Sparta scored a power play goal early in the third period to cut the Wildcat lead to 4-2.
But the Wildcats cored tow goal just a minute apart later in the period to put things away. Bradee Thompson scored first, assisted by Lushanko and Burggraff, and Burggraff scored a power play goal, assisted by Lushanko and Leigh Dehmer, to make the final score Chisago Lakes 6, Sparta 2.
Sparta outshot the Wildcats 47-41 in this game. Goaltender Ben Bratrud came up big, stopping 45 of the 47 shots he faced.
"We played better in this game," said Wildcat head coach Corey McKinnon. "We gave up more shots, but created more scoring chances. Benny Bratrud did a great job in the nets and we didn't allow any kind of a comeback. Danny Kimlinger, just back from an injury, had a nice goal. Getting him shifts was a nice plus for us. We are counting on Danny and the rest of the team to be firing on all cylinders heading into conference play."
Chisago Lakes 8, Eau Claire North 1
The Wildcats scored three goals in the first three minutes of their final tournament game last Thursday and cruised to an 8-1 win over the Eau Claire North Huskies. Seven different Wildcats scored goal in this one. Bradee Thompson, Cory Lushanko and Trent Montague scored the early goals in the first period. Sean Vainovskis picked up a goal later in the period to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead after one.
Riley Doriott and Ory Burggraff scored a minute apart in the second period. Lushanko scored his second goal of the game just over a minute into the third period. Brett Lizotte added a goal near the end to make the final score 8-2 in favor of the Wildcats.
Brian Hynes started in the nets for the Wildcats and stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced as the Wildcats outshot the Huskies 50-13 for the game. Nine different Wildcats picked up assists in this game. Kyle Hagglund, Doriott and Andrew Habel had two assists each. Players with one assist included Burggraff, Thompson, Danny Kimlinger, Montague, Jeff Sargeant and Matt Stamos.
"One of the good things to come out of this game." Said Wildcat head coach Corey McKinnon, "was that we got a chance to give all 17 skaters played equal ice time. Guys like Joe LaBarre and Colton Reynolds have been pushing the starters all season in practice. We want to reward them by giving them an opportunity to play. We got three wins and a lot of good memories out of this trip and now it's time to get our sights set on shooting for top of conference."
"I want to mention, too, that we are happy to have senior Kylum Hart return to our team this season. He came back after taking a year off and has been a positive influence for our whole hockey organization. We are a great fit for him and he's a great fit for us. He's a quick player and has been a strong leader on our JV."
Chisago Lakes 5, Spring Lake Park 3
The Wildcat boys hockey team rang in the new year and began the conference schedule with a well-played, satisfying 5-3 win over Spring Lake Park last Tuesday, January 4 at Chisago Lakes Arena.
With just under a minute to go in the first period, Cory Lushanko took a hit along the side wall in the neutral zone but managed to slide the puck to Bradee Thompson as he got hit. Thompson came down the right side of the ice and made a nice pass to Ory Burggraff. As soon as he caught the puck on his stick, Burggraff ripped a shot into the upper right hand corner of the net to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. "You can't hit the upper right corner any better than Ory did," said Wildcat head coach Corey McKinnon.
Just a couple of minutes into the second period, the Wildcats had the Panthers bottled up in their end. The Panthers finally got the puck over the blue line and dumped it into the Wildcats zone to try to get a five man line change. But they dumped it right on net. Wildcat goalie Ben Bratrud, a good puckhandler, quickly airmailed the puck to Riley Doriott at the Panther blue line, catching the Panthers in the middle of their change. Doriott led a three-on-oh break into the zone and snapped it by the goalie to put the Wildcats up 2-0. The Panthers scored less than a minute later to pull within one. But with just under four minutes left in the period, Lawrence Zaun partially fanned on a shot and the puck went right to Matt Stamos. Stamos threw it at the net. Lefty Andrew Habel pounced on the rebound, pulled it to his backhand and put it through traffic into the net to once again put the Wildcats up by two.
Just over a minute later, the Wildcats stretched their lead to three goals. Lushanko came in all alone on the goalie. Righty Lushanko moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand as the goalie slid across to the right. Lushanko buried a backhand into the top left corner to stretch the Wildcat lead to three goals. Burggraff and Thompson picked up assists on the play. But the pesky Panthers wouldn't go away, scoring with less than two minutes left in the period to cut the Wildcat lead to 4-2 at the end of two.
The Panthers scored midway through the third period to cut the Wildcats lead to one. The Wildcats continued to play well, and Lushanko's empty-netter with 24 seconds remaining finally sealed the victory.
McKinnon said "Spring Lake Park is always a team that's ready to play. They finished in the top half of the conference the last few years. This year, they lost 4-1 to Totino Grace, but gave up two empty net goals in the last minute. Being our first conference game, we knew it would be a tough test for the guys. At the same time, by the end of last game of the Wisconsin tourney we pretty well felt it was time to move into conference play. And I was pleased with a lot of things I saw in this one, especially from a defensive standpoint. We had a good all around effort at both ends of the rink and got some guys to put some pucks away.
"Even when they cut the lead to 4-3 there was no sense of panic on our part. We continued to play aggressively, forechecking, coming back to pick up trailers and generally trying to make life miserable for the other team. I told the guys that this was our best all around game all year."
Benilde-St. Margaret's 7, Chisago Lakes 0
Benilde-St. Margaret's showed why they are ranked eighth in the state in AA, dismantling the Wildcats 7-0 last Saturday, February 8 at Chisago Lakes Arena. The loss was just the second for the Wildcats on the season against nine wins and evened their conference record at 1-1. The Red Knights outshot the Wildcats 17-6 in the first period and led 2-0 at the end of one. They poured in four goals in the second to take a commanding 6-0 lead on their way to the win. For the game, Benilde outshot the Wildcats 49-17.
"I think Benilde's speed is what impresses me the most," said Wildcat head coach Corey McKinnon. "The good thing about playing a team like that is that it exposes your weaknesses so you know what to work on. For the guys on our roster who want to play at the next level when their high school career is over, it gave them a taste of what the next level is like. I was proud of our effort and saw a lot of good things carry over from the Spring Lake Park game."
The Wildcats head out on the road for a couple of conference games over the next week, playing St. Francis tonight at 7 p.m. at East Bethel. Their next big test comes next Wednesday when they take on Totino Grace at 7 p.m. at Parade Ice Garden in downtown Minneapolis.