Wayzata goalie Aaron Dingman and defenseman Alex Stevens helped to keep Burnsville scoreless through two periods. In the third, Burnsville scored three times to make it close down the stretch but Wayzata notched the victory 4-3. Photo by Brian Nelson
According to Wayzata coach Pat O’Leary, it is one of his team’s greatest strengths, and he knew it would come into play Thursday when the No. 4-ranked Trojans hosted feisty No. 10 Burnsville at the Plymouth Ice Center.
Leading by three goals with 3 minutes remaining, Wayzata had to pull out all of the stops as the Blaze used a power-play push to score two goals in less than two minutes and nearly force overtime in the Trojans' 4-3 victory.
In a final push to tie the score, Burnsville pulled goalie Nic Anderson and brought on the pressure, powering shot after shot at Wayzata goalie Aaron Dingmann.
Dingmann had notched 16 saves through the first and second period for Wayzata (12-2-0), but with the game on the line and the Blaze (7-7-1) on a roll, the Trojans did whatever they could to help clear the puck as the clock ticked down.
“You tell your kids to play 51 minutes and sometimes they do things that are uncharacteristic, defensively,” O’Leary said. “[Burnsville] had a couple really nice goals. Obviously, they have some good talent over there. You just can’t let those guys free.”
“When you play the competition that we play, you gotta play the whole game.”
Wayzata and Burnsville seemed to be evenly matched in the early going. Both teams had posted six shots on goals as the second period got underway but the Trojans were able to get on the board first, ending the second period with a commanding 3-0 lead.
“We knew this was a big game coming into it,” junior forward Jack Sorenson said. “The last couple of games, we’ve been in a rut. We knew we had to come out sharp and getting out to that early lead really helped our momentum.”
Sorenson notched a goal and an assist and echoed Coach O’Leary’s emphasis on the team’s defense.
“Scoring goals is always big but our team, we believe defense is first,” he said. “We know that if we put up four goals that it’s going to be tough to beat us, based on our defensive play and our goaltending.”
The Trojans will be forced to test their defense once again on Saturday when they host top-ranked Hill-Murray at home, a challenge Sorenson said he is excited about taking on with his team.
“Nothing better than playing the No. 1 team in your home barn,” Sorenson said. “Should be a packed house, should be a good time.”
Burnsville junior Tyler Sheey scores with 29 seconds left to bring the Blaze to within one. - Photo by Brian Nelson
Burnsville's Brock Boeser was hit hard along the boards during the second period and suffered an ankle injury.. Photo by Brian Nelson
Burnsville Junior Teemu Kivilhalme scored once and had two assists in the final six minutes to bring the Blaze back from a 4-0 deficit, but Wayzata held on for a 4-3 win. Photo by Brian Nelson
Wayzata Junior forward Jack Sorensen scored early in the second period to give Wayzata a 2-0 lead. Photo by Brian Nelson
Wayzata Coach Pat O'Leary has the Trojans off to a great start and a 12-2 record. They face their biggest test this season Saturday night when #1 ranked Hill-Murray visits the Plymouth Ice Center. Photo by Brian Nelson
Wayzata junior Chase Heising had a second period goal for the Trojans as they led 3-0 over Burnsville through two periods at the Plymouth Ice Center. Photo by Brian Nelson