Ben Troumbly scored 23 seconds into overtime to send the Greenway boys hockey team to the Class A state title game as the Raiders defeated Mahtomedi 3-2 Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Greenway will play St. Cloud Cathedral in the championship at noon Saturday.
The Raiders carried a 1-0 lead into the third period before the Zephyrs scored a pair of goals midway though the frame to go in front 2-1. Greenway went on a power play with three minutes remaining and took advantage with Troumbly scoring the tying goal with 1:46 remaining.
Greenway coach Grant Clafton said after the game despite Mahtomedi taking the lead late in the contest, he knew the team would respond based on everything they’ve they’ve been through this season.
“It’s a cliche and it sounds weird to say up here, but when you believe, you believe,” he said. “When you go through what these guys have gone through all season and you’re that battled tested; preparation creates confidence and these guys are prepared. They’ve gone through every situation this season.”
After a scoreless first period, the Raiders broke through late in the second when Donte Lawson carried the puck down the right side of the ice and fired a shot past Mahtomedi goalie Ben Dardis for a 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes into the third period, Nikolai Dulak tie the game for the Zephyrs, then two minutes later, Kory Pilarski scored the go-ahead goal for Mahtomedi.
At that point Clafton said little was said to the players. They knew the situation and the coaches were confident they would find a way to tie the game.
“(There was ) very little coaching,” he said. “We’re calm. It’s a calm, cool, collective group of mature kids. It’s a unique deal, they don’t panic. I’ve seen them do it since they’ve been in Pee Wees.”
The Raiders fended off numerous additional scoring chances from Mahtomedi in the third as the Zephyrs put 20 shots on goal in the period.
On Troumbly’s tying goal, he gathered the puck just outside the circle, skated in and found an opening past Dardis.
Lawson said with the late score and short break heading into overtime, the Raiders felt they had regained the momentum.
“When he put that in that gave us a lot of momentum,” he said. “It was just a short break before the overtime and we knew what we had to do. We did it against Hermantown. We had to get pucks deep and bring it to the net and that’s what we did.”
On the game-winner, Troumbly gathered the rebound off his initial shot, moved to his left and had an open net past Dardis.
“It was a battle up front and the loose puck came my way, I just went around,” he said.
“I thought it was an outstanding play by him,” Clafton added. “You almost knew it was gonna go in we had it.”
Logan Wright had 35 saves for the Raiders, while Dardis had 26.
Looking back on some midseason struggles, Clafton said it was tough to judge where the team was at for a period of time because they played such tough competition, which included a 5-2 loss to Mahtomedi Dec. 29, while playing with a number of injured players.
“We did have a pretty tough schedule that was pretty consecutive, probably our first seven, eight games were very difficult and unfortunately we lost some of our key guys,” he said. “We never really had our full team when we were playing the peak of our schedule, but we’re battled tested and that’s a testament to these guys.”
With a sea of green lining the stands at the Xcel Center, Clafton said the team received great support from the fan base. Not only are they motivated to play for the Greenway community, but all the Iron Range communities.
“We are playing for something that’s so much bigger,” he explained. “You’re playing for past players, you’re playing for what Pat (Guyer) and Bird (Lawson) did; Adam Johnson who was with it, all the parents who contributed to go along the way in the ranks, the ‘67 and ‘68 tournament teams. Iron Range hockey is a huge tradition and the unique thing about it is we’re not only playing for Coleraine and the Greenway area, we’re representing Virginia and Eveleth and International Falls and Hibbing, those schools. There’s a lot of pride in it.”
Class A Semifinals
Greenway 3, Mahtomedi 2 OT
GWY 0 1 1 0 - 2
MAH 0 0 2 0 - 2
First period: No scoring.
Second period: 1, G, Donte Lawson (Ben Troumbly, Cam Lantz), 12:46.
Third period: 2, M, Nikolai Dulak (JD Metz, Colin Hagstrom), 7:22; 3, M, Kory Pilarski (Joe Paradise, Wyatt Begley), 9:34; 4, G, Troumbly (Lantz, Lawson), PP 15:14.
Overtime: 5, Troumbly (Lawson), :23.
Saves: G, Logan Wright 35; M, Ben Dardis 26.