It was a game that could have gone either way. Neither team led by more than one score throughout the evenly-matched event at the Worthington Ice Arena, which was played on the heels of a convincing Waseca victory over the Trojan girls team. A furious power play effort by the home-standing WHS boys in the final minute and 21 seconds came to nothing, and the Bluejays were able to preserve a victory that looked overtime in the face.
“You’ve got to give the kids credit,” said Worthington head coach Nate Grimmius after the game. “The kids had effort. When you have effort there are some other things you can work on. This was just one of those nights where we just didn’t get the bounce to go our way.”
The Trojans, now 1-5 on the season, scored first. With 6:20 remaining in the first period a breakaway shot by Nick Newman was deflected off the body of Waseca goalie Zach Wiechert, but Alex Kremer gathered in the deflection and scored from about 10 feet in front of the net. The junior forward’s goal held up until the second period.
With 55.1 seconds left to play in the first period, a major penalty for boarding was assessed against Worthington. Early in the second period, still in the power play, Waseca evened the game at 1-1 on a goal by JP Eykyn, assisted by Richard Volkmer and Michael Priebe. The Bluejays took the lead with 5:27 remaining in the second as Priebe took a pass and smashed it through on the right side of the net.
“The first period, I think we definitely outplayed them,” said Grimmius, who said he disagreed with the major penalty that occurred inside the final minute. “The first period was probably the best period of hockey we played all year,” he said.
Late in the second period, with 1:30 showing on the scoreboard clock, Worthington’s Evan Eggers let fly a long, hard shot from about a 45-degree angle on the right side of the Waseca net. The shot was low enough, and hard enough, that it found its way through Wiechert’s defenses.
All even at 2-2, Worthington battled gamely to keep the aroused Bluejays from regaining the advantage. Just moments after Eggers’ score, senior Trojan goalie Alex Purdy snuffed a good Waseca goal opportunity right in front of him, refusing to give ground as the Jays fell heavily around the net.
But Purdy’s efforts could not stop the game-winning goal in the third period. Metzdorff had nothing but free ice ahead of him after taking control of a loose puck around center ice. His shot went high and into the upper right corner of the net. Purdy shot a glove out to catch the missile, but he never really had a chance.
“We came back in the third period and I think we battled back strongly,” said Grimmius, who stressed to his players before the game their need for breakouts and to improve their defensive zone play. Grimmius saw some improvement on both issues, he said, and he praised Purdy’s performance throughout.
“He worked hard tonight, he really did. He stopped a lot of goal opportunities they had on a couple of breakaways,” Grimmius declared.
“This was one of the better games we’ve played this year,” said Purdy. “Everybody was hustling. I think if we play at the same level we played this one, we would have a good chance of beating some teams in our conference and outside of it.”
Final shots-on-goal statistics revealed the closeness of the game. Worthington out-shot Waseca 11-6 in the first period, Waseca out-shot Worthington 14-9 in the second and Worthington out-shot Waseca 9-8 in the third. The Trojans made 29 shots overall, compared to the Bluejays’ 28.
Waseca 0 2 1 — 3
Worthington 1 1 0 — 2