MINNEAPOLIS, MN — For a program as successful as Minnetonka, the Skippers have been missing from the state tournament for eight long seasons with their last appearance coming way back in the 2010 championship game.
That suffering ended Wednesday night after the Skippers, No. 1 in The HockeyClan State Rankings, overcame Holy Family, 5-4, in a memorable double-overtime slugfest in the Class AA, Section 2 championship game at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.
Josh Luedtke, one of Minnetonka’s top defensemen, led the Skippers back to state after he shimmied under a defender and slammed home the game-winner for Minnetonka.
“I made that move and looked far side. I knew I had him and it was a great feeling.” Luedtke said after the game. “It’s hard to explain, but to do it with this group of brothers, it means something. We battled so hard.”
— Jack Kewitsch (@jackkewitsch) March 1, 2018
It appeared to be anyone’s game through the first two periods that saw the teams at a deadlock in regard to score at one apiece, but the Skippers were all over the Fire in shots as they ended the bout with 57 to Holy Family’s 21.
That was until a back and forth third period unfolded. Luedtke put the Skippers up 2-1 a little over a minute in before Holy Family’s Joe Simon netted a break-away attempt five minutes later to even it at two.
It was then Minnetonka’s Luke Loheit and Holy Family’s Jack Haley’s turn to trade blows in terms of goals to then put the teams again on the level pegging of three goals each.
But then the tides turned.
Holy Family netted a goal from Simon only seconds into a power play to go up 4-3 with only three minutes remaining and it looked to seal the victory for their first ever state appearance. That was until Minnetonka head coach Sean Goldsworthy pulled Charlie Glockner out of net and put sophomore Teddy Lagerback on the ice for the man-advantage.
With 3.4 seconds left, he shot on Holy Family’s Conan Hayton’s five-hole and saw the shot trickle into the net for a raucous game-tying goal.
It was not until Luedtke netted his second of the game did the crowd let out a collective breath.
When asked about how this team overcame adversity, Goldsworthy was proud of the way his team responded.
“These kids love each other, and I think these kids haven’t given up on each other all year,” Goldsworthy said. “What you saw tonight is just a small segment of what these kids do every day.”
As for Holy Family (23-4-1), their first trip to St. Paul remains out of their reach, but a game like tonight should still be celebrated. To climb back after being manhandled for most of the game and to have a goaltender make 52 saves against one of the best shooting teams in the state is stunning.
Minnetonka (24-2-2) is expected to enter the state tournament as the top seed and the 6pm game versus a random draw opponent. Seeding occurs Sunday morning.
1. D Josh Luedtke (Minnetonka) – 2 G, GWG
2. G Conan Hayton (Holy Family) – 52/57 saves
3. F Teddy Lagerback (Minnetonka) – 1 G, GTG with 3.4 seconds left
Related: Minnesota’s “Mr. Hockey” Finalists and Snubs
Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Minnetonka’s Ryan Elder (26) sends the puck on net with David Andes (27) coming in next to him. Minnetonka survived the sectional final with a 5-4 victory over Holy Family Catholic at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Feb. 28, 2018. (Jack Kewitsch/HockeyClan)
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