One goal for every seven shots. In a perfect world, that’s Les Larson’s mathematical hope for Breck’s boys’ hockey team.
“We played 51 minutes; I’m proud of our kids,” Larson said. “But you have to accept the result. They were just a little bit better than us.”
“They” as in defending Class 1A champion St. Thomas Academy, which advanced back to the small school title game with a 1-0 semifinal victory over the Mustangs on Friday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.
Breck came into the game with 225 goals scored this season, more than any other team in the program’s distinguished hockey history. Breck hadn’t been shut out since an 8-0 drubbing by Class 2A Hill-Murray on Dec. 29, 2010.
None of the 25 shots put on STA goaltender David Zevnik Friday could solve the steel trap defensive system of the Cadets, who enter Saturday’s championship having not given up more than one goal in a game since Jan. 26.
Zevnik has stopped all 35 shots he’s faced in the state tournament.
“[The defense] does a great job of clearing guys out,” Zevnik said. “I was able to see all of the shots.”
The only goal came with just under three minutes to play in the second period after defenseman Tony Bretzman grabbed a Breck turnover in the neutral zone. He sped down the far wall and threaded a pass through two Mustangs to a waiting Peter Kreiger, who tapped in his 15th goal of the season.
After the teams combined to win their quarterfinal games 14-0 on Wednesday, neither coach – nor many watching – expected Kreiger’s goal to hold up as the only one.
“I thought there’d be six or seven goals,” Cadets coach Greg Vannelli said. “But the way it’s been going with us, our solid defense and goaltending, [the 1-0 game] doesn’t surprise me but I didn’t expect it.”
Breck missed out on a breakaway and hit two pipes in the third period.
“Our guys wanted this thing,” Larson said.