Moorhead concluded its regular season with an overtime victory against Hill-Murray fueled by ugly, grinding goals.
The Spuds' goals were beautiful things in the state tournament quarterfinal rematch Thursday. They scored three times in the second period, each goal more awe-inspiring than the last, for a 4-2 victory at Xcel Energy Center. Four players scored, three of them burying pucks high in the Pioneers' net.
Junior forward Jack Stetz kept Moorhead out of reach with a shorthanded goal scored with only 32 seconds left in the second period. As he glided toward the net with teammate Jake Holtgrewe in position to take a pass, Stetz wisely used the time and space.
"When I got the puck, the defender was kind of cheating over to Jake and I was thinking, 'OK, I'm going to shoot this, but now where am I going to shoot it?' " Stetz said. "The goalie was kind of cheating to his blocker side and I gave it a shot top shelf."
The Spuds' 4-2 lead went unchanged in large part because of the psychological effect Stetz's goal had on both teams.
"That was a tough moment, really tough," Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner said. "Before that we had three or four great chances, we started to get the fever and then we have a breakdown."
As the Pioneers (19-6-4) slumped, No. 3 seed Moorhead (23-3-3) soared.
"That goal really gave us the big momentum push to win the game," Holtgrewe said.
DAVID LA VAQUE