A good bounce and some quick thinking helped Stillwater forward Zach Fedie score the winning goal Thursday at the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center in Stillwater.
Almost three periods of hard-fought but scoreless hockey against second-ranked and undefeated Minnetonka went by before Fedie scored the lone goal in a 1-0 upset victory. Ian Wiesbrod carried the puck toward the Skippers net in traffic, and the next thing Fedie knew, it was at his feet.
"It hit their goalie, bounced off my breezers," Fedie said. "I kicked it to my forehand and buried it in the lower corner."
Only 27.6 seconds remained in the game, which until Fedie's goal was evenly matched.
The teams battled through two scoreless periods in which each mustered 12 shots on goal. A tight, defensive game seemed to favor Stillwater (3-2-1), which had yielded three goals in its previous three games. Colton Anderson stopped all 18 Minnetonka shots on goal.
"We played pretty well defensively," Fedie said. "We were expecting a tight game."
Minnetonka (7-1) entered averaging 5.6 goals and had scored at least three times in all seven games. Defensively, the Skippers had held opponents to a lone goal in four games.
But two things were missing from the Skippers' attack. Defenseman Tommy Vannelli, a Gophers recruit, made the trip but missed the game because of an illness. His presence was missed primarily on the power play.
The other element lacking: fire. "I don't think we played with enough urgency," Skippers coach Brian Urick said. "We had to match them because they play hard, and we didn't do that tonight."
Thursday's game kicks off a tough stretch of game for both teams. The Ponies play No. 4 Wayzata, No. 15 Andover and No. 19 Mounds View in the next two weeks.
The Skippers take on No. 14 Moorhead and will see three top-10 teams in the Schwan Cup Gold Division.