PLYMOUTH, MN — Looking for a confidence-boosting victory after being humiliated by conference foe Edina on Thursday, the No. 1 Minnetonka Skippers fought its way through the physical play of No. 9 Wayzata Trojans to come out with a victory.
Junior Jack Bayless led the way with a goal and two assists for Minnetonka, which cruised to a 5-0 victory over Wayzata at Plymouth Ice Arena.
“We just wanted to prove that we are still a top team in the state even after we let the score get up on us,” Bayless said after falling 8-2 to Edina on Jan. 26.
With its only losses to No. 2 Duluth East and No. 3 Edina, Bayless and the Skippers proved they are still a team to beat in Minnesota and this win proved it.
Starting off strong, Minnetonka (15-2-2) controlled the puck with skilled handling in the first and did not allow the hard hits from the Trojans to knock them off balance. The Skippers got on the board at the 8:39 mark when Mitchell McGannon took a shot that ended up being tipped in by David Andes to go up 1-0.
Three minutes later, they continued their attacking play when Bayless scored his first point off a Teddy Lagerback pass that was initially broken up by the Wayzata penalty kill. The puck bounced to Bayless’s stick, however, right in front of the net and the junior made no mistake putting it home for the 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
The story of the game was not the scoring for the Skippers, which saw them score three more times off the sticks of Grant Docter in the second, and Joe Molenaar (PPG) and Bobby Brink in the third. Instead, it was the aggressive nature of Wayzata and how they were able to get Minnetonka to do the same.
The second period alone saw 11 penalties called across the board. At one point, Minnetonka had four skaters in the box while Wayzata had three and all seven were in the sin bin for roughing. All of them were completely uncalled for as hands and arms were flying. In the scrum, a ref even became partially scarred as he had to be attended to by the trainer on site for a cut above his eyebrow.
Yet, the third is where the most infuriating moment of the night occurred.
Not even three minutes into the third and final frame, Wayzata’s Tommy Leisen and Minnetonka’s Luke Loheit, who is also a captain, went at it. Numerous punches were thrown by the pair and it is one of the most intense player-on-player moments I have seen in high school hockey. It took the referees 10 minutes to sort the ordeal out and discuss how the remainder of the game would play out with each team’s coaches and players.
Ultimately, officials ejected Leisen and Loheit as the crowd cheered their decision. Loheit was visibly distraught as he threw open the door to the rink that led to the locker room.
These outbursts were even more confusing than usual because there was a 3-0 lead on the board for the Skippers and they were the ones setting the pace and breaking up Wayzata chances the whole way.
In the end, Minnetonka was able to keep their cool.
“Kept our heads steady,” Bayless said. “There were a couple of guys that got kicked out, but we knew that we needed to win and not worry about that extracurricular stuff.”
It was a solid victory for the Skippers that was much-needed after the Edina game two nights earlier. Especially for junior goaltender Charlie Glockner, who stopped all 20 of Wayzata’s shots after being pulled from the game on Thursday.
When asked about what he told his squad after that loss and looking forward into the Wayzata game, Skippers’ head coach Sean Goldsworthy said: “Pretty much the same message after we beat Edina in December — it’s still the midway point in the season. Its January. It’s not late February or March — yet. Sometimes a loss like that allows you to reevaluate where you’re at and reset your priorities.”
Minnetonka visits Benilde-St. Margaret’s next, while Wayzata (11-7-1) gets to face the rolling Edina Hornets in what is sure to be a physically imposing match from both squads.
1. F Jack Bayless (Jr.) – 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts
2. G Charlie Glockner (Jr.) – 20 saves, shutout
3. F Joe Molenaar (Sr.) – 1 G, 1 Pt
Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch
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