The Greenway boys hockey team advanced to the Class A semifinals after a 6-4 win over Delano Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Christian Miller fired a shot past Tigers goalie Aaron Kruse with 7:20 remaining in the contest to give the Raiders the go-ahead score. Greenway wouldn’t relinquish the lead from there, adding an empty net goal from Donte Lawson in the final minute to seal the win.
It was a tough start for the Raiders as Delano put up three goals in the first period, taking a 3-1 advantage.
From there, Greenway found a way to take control of the game in the second period, putting 17 shots on goal with scores from Lawson and Ben Troumbly to tie the game heading into the final frame.
Raiders coach Grant Clafton said there was definitely some first period nerves playing into the team’s uneven start, however they settled into their style of play moving forward in the second and third periods.
“Here’s the deal, I mean these are young kids and are in the state tournament and you’re 16,17 years old, I think that’s natural,” he said. “I thought we started moving our feet a lot more. I didn’t think we were outstanding in faceoffs throughout the whole game, but they certainly improved in the second period. That was a big part of it being able to find our guys off of faceoffs, engage and move up the rink with cohesion.”
Like the Section 7A final against Hermantown where the Raiders found themselves trailing after a tough first period, Lawson said there was no doubt the team would find a way to get back into the game.
“I don’t think it really did (effect us),” he said of the first period deficit. “We knew what we had to do. We had battled adversity all year.”
Clafton said Wednesday’s game reflected much of what the Raiders have seen all season. They dropped a 4-3 game to Delano at the end of December so it serves as an opportunity to prove they could be a better team.
“This is a chance to right a wrong,” he said. “We went through some tough times for about six solid weeks and they were part of that group of teams that was taking it out on us.
“These games in my opinion have mirrored our whole season, every single game, you’re down two nothing, you’re down three to one, it’s a weird feeling to have and I think our players have that. We’re not out of any game.”
In the third period, Delano went back in front seven minutes in on a score from Kory Dunnigan, his second of the game. However, the Raiders were quick to answer a minute and a half later when Mitchell Vekich tipped in a Cam Lantz shot from the point.
Delano coach Gerrit van Bergen said Greenway’s ability to set up its offense and find lanes to get pucks on the net made it difficult for the Tigers to get in position to block more shots.
“Greenway did an excellent job of getting pucks through from the point, utilizing the NHL size zone and the higher blue line making it difficult for our wings to get in the lanes,” he said. The angles changed from what we’re used to.
“We’ve played 29 (opponents) or games now. I’d say they did the best of getting pucks through.”
Micah Gernander scored Greenway’s opening goal in the first period at 14:07 after Delano got out to a 2-0 lead.
Logan Wright had 21 saves for the Raiders and Kruse had 33 for Delano.
Greenway, the No. 4 seed, will play No. 1 Mahtomedi at 1 p.m. Friday.
Class A Quarterfinal
Greenway 6, Delano 4
GWY 1 2 3 - 6
DEL 3 0 1 - 4
First period: 1, D, Kory Dunnigan (Quinn Daly, Joseph Blanchard), 7:11; 2, D, Jack Keranen (Adam Brown, Tommy Peterson), 7:31; 3, G, Micah Gernander (Donte Lawson), 14:07; 4, D, Peterson (Brown, Hogan Williams), 16:08.
Second period: 5, G, Lawson (Nikolai Rajala, Christian Miller), 1:26; 6, G, Ben Troumbly (Lawson), 8:05.
Third period: 7, D, Dunnigan (unassisted), 7:23; 8, Mitchell Vekich (Cam Lantz, Brock Trboyevich), 8:47; 9, Miller (Rajala, Tristan Birdall); 10, Lawson (Gernander), EN 16:25.
Saves: G, Logan Wright 21; D, Aaron Kruse 33.