Jack Gunderson joked about having bragging rights for scoring the tournament's first goal but Mahtomedi teammate Jack Becker paced the Zephyrs' 6-3 victory over New Ulm with a hat trick.
Becker's three goals ran his team-high total to 28 this season. The 6-3, 190-pound junior center led the Zephyrs with 41 points last season. Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschl said a strong performance on the tournament stage Wednesday befitted one of the state's best, yet most unheralded players.
"I don't know if people who don't see him day in and day out appreciate the little things he does, whether it's winning draws, slowing things down or rallying his teammates," said Poeschl, whose team will face East Grand Forks on Friday.
Becker, who won 21 of 29 faceoffs, started his big game nine seconds into the second period.
"I was just pressuring their D-man, and he lost the puck," Becker said. "I got a little breakaway and just shot it."
On his second goal, Becker made Eagles goalie Matt Berkner an unwilling accomplice.
"I tried to bank it off [Berkner] and I got lucky," Becker said.
The goal gave Mahtomedi (25-2-2) a 4-1 lead and a psychological edge.
"That shorthanded goal was kind of a backbreaker," said New Ulm forward Ethan Kraus, whose team finished 18-9-2.
Becker's final goal, a blistering shot from the slot, sealed the outcome.
DAVID LA VAQUE