See the puck. Stop the puck.
Lakeville South senior goalie Henry Welsch followed that sounds-simple-enough formula time after time after time on Thursday in a Class 2A quarterfinals against Eden Prairie.
A near-record 63 times in all.
“It comes to a point where you are not really thinking, just playing,” said Welsch, whose brilliance allowed unseeded Lakeville South to push Eden Prairie to three overtimes before losing 3-2.
Welsch’s 63 saves were two short of the state-tournament record of 65 by Apple Valley’s Karl Goehring against Duluth East in 1996 in a five-overtime semifinal.
“Unbelievable,” Lakeville South sophomore Jack Novak said about Welsch’s performance. “He’s kept us in games the whole year. He’s a next-level athlete.”
Eden Prairie’s Jack Jensen scored the winner on a hard wrister from 15 feet out in the slot. The shot sailed through traffic in front and into the right side of the net, just inside the goalpost.
Did Welsch see it? “No, not really,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you where it went in.”
Added Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith: “Thank goodness we had some traffic there where Jack got that one at the end.”
Bears’ woes go on
White Bear Lake’s continued misfortunes in the quarterfinals defy the odds. Nineteen tries, zero victories, including Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Blaine.
Internally, players and coaches ignored the seemingly infinite hex.
“With these guys, that’s past history,” White Bear Lake coach Tim Sager said. “… At some point we’ll break through and win the quarterfinal.”
Reed Larson Award
Chaska senior Mike Koster was named the winner of the Reed Larson Award that goes to Minnesota’s top senior defenseman.
Ch. 45 apologizes
A Ch. 45 anchor apologized Thursday on behalf of the station after a prominent sports analyst inexplicably referred to “lynching ropes” while calling the game between White Bear Lake and Blaine.
Doug McLeod, the University of Minnesota play-by-play announcer at Fox Sports North, was invited back to the 75th annual tournament with a group of fellow broadcasting veterans.
During the second period, McLeod made an off-handed comment shortly after a Blaine goal: “All the White Bear fans get out the lynching ropes.”
The statement appeared to go unnoticed by his broadcasting partner — there’s a six-second video clip posted on Twitter.
But some hockey fans expressed outrage by his choice of words on social media. McLeod was ultimately pulled off the air.
Take that, dad
Scoring a goal in Thursday’s quarterfinal means Blaine junior forward Carsen Richels no longer must hear about dad’s favorite one-up.
Al Richels, a senior forward on the Bengals’ first state tournament team in 1992, tallied a goal that brought years of bragging rights.
That ended when Carsen buried his 40th goal of the season during Blaine’s 4-2 victory.
“Yeah, he can’t hold that one over me anymore,” Richels joked. “Feels good.”
Overshadowed at times by center Bryce Brodzinski, a Mr. Hockey Award finalist, Richels is a talented 6-2, 200-pound wing with 40 goals and 40 assists this season.
Staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.