Blaine's Jesse Norling (23) is unable to deflect the puck past Champlin Park goaltender Tyler Nelson. Photo by Dave Madsen (www.facebook.com/spbdm)
Could there be a better description of a David versus Goliath matchup in sectional semifinals than Champlin Park going up against Blaine?
The No.4-seeded Rebels finished the regular season 9-13-3.
They played the No. 1-seeded Bengals twice this year and lost by a combined score of 13-1.
"They are just so good and have so much depth," Rebels coach Pat Janostin said. "They just come at you in waves and a lot of times it just doesn't stop."
Blaine flexed its muscle with 47 shots on goal compared to just 19 for Champlin Park.
It had more shots on goal, more power play goals and more quality scoring chance, but the one thing Blaine did not have more of than the Rebels was total goals.
Champlin Park's Michael Borrell works the puck past Blaine's Alex Copa. Photo by Dave Madsen (www.facebook.com/spbdm)
Champlin Park sent shockwaves through the state with a 5-4 upset victory against the Bengals in the Section 5AA semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the State Fair Coliseum.
It will take on No. 2-seeded Centennial with a state tournament berth at stake.
"I just can't describe the feeling right now," Rebels' goalie Tyler Nelson said. "It is pretty incredible"
Nelson made 43 saves and is a big factor as to why Champlin Park will have a chance to reach its first state tournament since 1995.
He never had an opportunity to relax as the Bengals kept rolling line after line in the offensive zone, peppering Nelson from every conceivable angle.
"He (Nelson) was just huge," Janostin said. "It wasn't that he only just made one save, but he would come back and make others. He was so big for us because they never gave him a break."
After Joey Lau opened the scoring in the first period to put the Bengals up 1-0 signs started to point in the Rebels favor.
Blaine was attempting to break out of its zone and was going to start that with a pass from the right corner, behind the net and to the other defenseman.
However, the puck hit the referee and went right to Jack Gromek who buried it to tie the score.
"You start to think a little bit if odd things like that are going to continue to happen and maybe tonight would not be our night," Blaine coach Dave Aus said. "The referee came over and said he was sorry and there was nothing that he could do and it wasn't his fault at all. It was just one of those weird things that happen."
On top of Nelson's performance in net Calvin Spencer added two goals, including the game-winning goal on the power play with 51 seconds left.
The Rebels got control in the Bengals zone and Mason VanTuyl fired the puck on net where Spencer was camped out and he was able to redirect it past Blaine goalie Bailey Ketola and sent the Rebels faithful in a frenzy.
"I work on tipping shots a lot in practice," Spencer said. "Get in front of that goalie and when the opportunity comes my way I have to capitalize on it."
Along with the Rebel supporters the players on the ice went into hysteria.
"I did not see the puck go in, but when the light went on and I saw my teammates arms in the air, I was pretty excited," Nelson said. "When we scored with 51 seconds left in the game, I was feeling pretty good about our chances."
His coach wasn't as comfortable.
"I still saw 51 seconds on the clock and I know that give them (Blaine) three or four chances," Janostin said. "They're too good to think you have it all wrapped up with under a minute to go."
Champlin Park found a way to hold off the mighty Bengals in the final seconds.
Leaving many at the Coliseum in shock of what occurred.
For Blaine it was more than just being shocked.
"It's disappointing," Aus said. "Not because of how we played, because we had our chances and their goalie played really well tonight, so you have to give them credit for that.
"It's disappointing because I think this was one of the deepest teams we have had in a long time. Not only did i think we had the team that could get to state, but we were good enough to make a run at the whole thing. That's why this one is so tough."
Depth is about as foreign as you can get when discussing Champlin Park.
Janostin said there were times this season where the Rebels were not able to dress enough players for a junior varsity game.
"We don't have the number that Blaine and some of those other schools have," he said. "We would go into a game and have three or four guys on our JV bench, but those that stuck with our program now have a chance. That is all we wanted at the end was just a chance and right now we have made the most of it."
No. 4-seeded Champlin Park may have sent a shocker through the whole state with its 5-4 victory against No. 1-seeded Blaine in the Section 5AA semifinals on Thursday, Feb. 27 at the State Fair Coliseum.
Calvin Spencer scored the game-winning goal on the power play with 51 seconds left in the third period to propel the Rebels to the Section 5AA championship game.
Spencer also scored with 1 minute, 11 seconds left in the first period and also recorded an assist..
Rebels' goalie Tyler Nelson was under fire all night facing 47 shots, turning away 43 of them. He faced a combined total of 34 in the final two periods.
Blaine took a 1-0 lead early in the first period when Joey Lau buried a rebound after Jesse Norling put a shot on net.
It would end up being one of those games for the Bengals late in the first period.
A Bengal defenseman attempted to make a pass behind the net, but it deflected off of the referee and went right in front of Blaine's net. Bengals' goalie Bailey Ketola was looking the other way, expecting the puck to be with the other defenseman, but Rebels' forward Jack Gromek was right there and buried the shot right away.
Spencer scored his first later in the period, getting a shot through a scrum in front of the Bengals net.
Bryce Plunkett gave the Rebels a 3-1 lead early in the first period, but it was short lived as Ian Sceid scored two power play goals just nine seconds apart to tie the score.
Champlin Park did not back down despite being heavily outshot.
Reese Woods put the Rebels up 4-3 with an unassisted goal on a wrist shot that found the upper corner.
Blaine's Brandon Notermann tied the score when he put in a shot into a wide open net as Nelson fought through traffic in front of the net and eventually lost his balance.
With 1 minute, 52 seconds left in the third Blaine's Zack Wylie was called for tripping and the Rebels went on their first power play.
Spencer would tip in a shot by Mason VanTuyl with 51 seconds left in the third to give Champlin Park a 5-4 lead.
The Bengals pulled Ketola from the net with 35 seconds left in the third, but could not find a way to beat Nelson.
Blaine finishes the season 20-6-1.
Champlin Park advances to the Section 5AA championship game Friday, March 1 at the State Fair Coliseum.
1. Calvin Spencer, Champlin Park
The junior scored two goals and recorded an assist, but his second goal was the biggest one of the season and may have resulted in the biggest upset in the postseason so far. A power play tally with only 51 seconds left in the third. Spencer used his big frame in every facet. Hitting, positioning, long reach, you name it. He came through when the Rebels needed him the most.
2. Ian Scheid, Blaine
A defenseman that is not shy to get in the flow offensively, Scheid tallied two power play goals just nine seconds apart, which tied the score at 3 in the second period. He displayed his comfort in handling the puck not only in the offensive zone, but in the Bengals zone as well. Numerous breakouts were easily constructed because of Scheid's ability to move the puck so well.
3. Tyler Nelson, Champlin Park
He may have let in four goals, but Nelson was under fire all night and faced 47 shots on goal, 34 coming in the final two periods. In a spot where the Rebels needed their goalie to steal a game, Nelson stood tall to the challenge. If he did not control the puck on the initial save, he found ways to get back and make the second one.