Less than a minute into the second period of the Class 1A, Section 4, boys’ hockey championship game at Roseville Ice Arena on Friday night, Mahtomedi’s Jack Becker broke away from the pack.
The junior forward calmly carried the puck into the offensive zone and beat St. Paul Aacdemy goaltender Andrew Beran for the go-ahead goal in a 5-2 victory that advanced the Zephyrs to the state tournament for the first time since 2010.
“I had pressure on the [defense]. He was at the top of the umbrella on the power play, coughed up the puck and I just shot and scored,” Becker said.
Before Becker’s goal gave Mahtomedi a lead it would never relinquish, the teams went back and forth in a wild first period. St. Paul Academy’s Cullen McCabe scored at 7:15 and the Zephyrs tied it up less than a minute later courtesy of a Kellen Campbell power-play goal.
The Spartans’ Noel Parker scored at the 9:25 mark, before Campbell recorded his second goal of the night shorthanded off an assist from Becker.
“This year we took care of business,” Campbell said. “It feels unbelievable.”
Though the Zephyrs gave up two goals early, their defense toughened up as the game progressed. Junior goaltender Will Swanson recorded 22 saves, keeping the Spartans at bay and securing the victory.
St. Paul Academy pulled its goalie late in the third period, leading to an empty-net goal from Jared Fladebo.
After narrowly losing in the section final last season, the Zephyrs won this one with room to spare.
“We were in the same situation last year up 4-2 going into the third period and had a bad taste in our mouths for 12 months,” Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschl said. “I’m just so proud of these guys.”
Jack Satzinger is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment from the Star Tribune.