TROJAN BOYS HOCKEY: Comeback stuns TrojansCougars rally for overtime victory as Worthington begins season.
WORTHINGTON — Grayson Gavin’s overtime game-winner capped a late three-goal rally, helping Mankato East/Loyola to surprise Worthington 4-3 on Saturday.
“It was a heartbreaker that it was the difference, but I think our players know it should have never come down to that,” Trojans coach Nate Grimmius said. “We should have never let it get to that point. We should have ended it in regulation.”
WHS (0-1-0) looked to be in control of its season opening boys hockey game, leading 3-1 with 2 minutes left in regulation. Jacob Oberloh, Andrew Johnson and Jacob Molden all scored as Worthington built its two-goal cushion.
The Cougars (1-0-0) trimmed their deficit to 3-2 in the final 91 seconds of the third period. Judd Schulz fed Alec Schultz, whose shot beat Trojans goalie Rylan Scholtes with 1:31 showing.
Still leading by a goal, Worthington went on the power play immediately after the Mankato East/Loyola tally. Nick Yess was sent to the penalty box for slashing as the Cougars celebrated.
But that power play was nullified 10 seconds later, when Scholtes was charged with a penalty for interference. It became a 5-on-4 situation for Mankato East/Loyola, when coach Aaron Anderson decided to pull goalie Jeremia Merela in favor of having an extra attacker.
The strategy worked.
Shane Sellner’s goal tied the game at 3 just 17 seconds after Schultz’s tally.
“Being down two goals very late in the game, it was awesome to finally see us get a goal and then to get another one really quickly,”Anderson said. “It allowed us to play 4-on-4 hockey for about a minute before it went to overtime.”
For Scholtes, who stopped 25 of 29 shots, it was his third infraction for interference and fourth penalty overall.
“We have to stay out of the penalty box because it hurt us pretty bad in his game,” Grimmius said. “It just seemed like we couldn’t get ourselves out of the box and we were constantly playing on the penalty kill.”
The Trojans were whistled for 10 penalties and the Cougars were hit with six infractions.
In contast to Scholtes, Merela faced 18 shots, stopping 15 of them.
Gavin provided the Cougars with a sudden death game-winning goal at the 5:15 mark of overtime. It was the only time in the game Mankato East/Loyola was in the lead.
“We let the puck bounce around in the attacking zone during the first two periods before being able to knock it in late the third period,” Anderson said. “Then, it just seemed like we had the knack (to score) and away it went.”
Worthington players and coaches protested to game officials that the net had come loose before Gavin’s goal in an attempt to disallow it. But game officials ruled the goal to stand.
Strong special teams play lifted Worthington to a 2-0 lead.
A shorthanded goal by Oberloh put the Trojans ahead 1-0 at the 2:09 mark of the first period. He picked off a pass in the neutral zone, skated to the left side of the goalmouth, where his shot beat Merela.
Then, Andrew Johnson’s second-period power play goal was set up by a Levi Leach pass with 11 minutes showing. Johnson whacked the puck past Merela after making his way to the slot and receiving Leach’s flip from the right-side boards.
“I was very pleased with our power-play and penalty-killing units,” Grimmius said. “That’s what gave us the lead early.”
Carter Johnson cut Mankato East/Loyola’s deficit to 2-1 as 6:28 remained in the second period.
Worthington, which was 2 for 6 on the power play, turned to Molden in the third period. His laser shot from the blue line beat Merela as the Trojans had a man-advantage and increased their lead to two goals.
All of the Cougars’ goals came at even-strength. Mankato East/Loyola was 0 for 6 in power play chances.
Both teams’ penalty-killing units were solid, each thwarting a 5-minute major infraction.
“Neither team mounted much of an attack during the major penalties,” Anderson said. “I think we had one shot during the major penalty chance we had in the third period. Both teams really did play pretty good defense.”
Worthington hosts Mankato in the second half of a girls-boys hockey doubleheader at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
DG Sports Editor Jeff Arenz
may be reached at 376-7328.
MANKATO EAST/LOYOLA 4, WORTHINGTON 3, OT
ME/L 0 1 2 1 — 4
WHS 1 1 1 0 — 3
First Period: 1. Worthington, Oberloh (unassisted), 2:09 (sh). Penalties: Worthington, Leach (holding), 13:29; Mankato East/Loyola, C. Johnson (interference), 12:11; Worthington, Patten (hooking), 6:36; Worthington, Honius (charging), 3:23.
Second Period: 2. Worthington, Johnson (Leach), 11:00 (pp); 3. Mankato East/Loyola, C. Johnson (unassisted), 6:28. Penalties: Mankato East/Loyola, Adams (high-sticking), 11:48; Worthington, Scholtes, served by Newman (interference), 8:05; Mankato East/Loyola, B. Johnson (5-minute major, checking from behind, 10-minute misconduct), 3:16; Worthington, Scholtes, served by Heidebrink (roughing), 0:42; Mankato East/Loyola, C. Johnson (slashing), 0:42.
Third Period: 4. Worthington, Molden (Johnson), 4:40; 5. Mankato East/Loyola, A. Schultz (J. Schultz), 1:31; 6. Mankato East/Loyola, Sellner (unassisted), 1:14. Penalties: Worthington, Scholtes, served by Oberloh (interference), 15:12; Worthington, Oberloh (5-minute major, head contact, 10-minute misconduct), 10:57; Mankato East/Loyola, Yess (slashing), 5:14; Mankato East/Loyola, Adams (interference), 4:01; Worthington, Honius (high-sticking), 4:01; Worthington, Honius (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:31; Worthington, Scholtes, served by Honius (interference), 1:21.
Overtime: 7. Mankato East/Loyola, Gavin (B. Johnson), 5:15. Penalties: Worthington, Heidebrink (misconduct).
Shots on goal: Mankato East/Loyola 11-8-8-2—29. Worthington 8-5-4-1—18.
Power-play Opportunities: Mankato East/Loyola 0 of 6; Worthington 2 of 6.
Goalies: Mankato East/Loyola, Merela (18 shots, 15 saves); Worthington, Scholtes (29-25).