The way Eden Prairie forward Michael Graham sees it, there’s a two-step process to beating Wayzata goaltender Alex Schilling.
Step one, “You just get bodies in front of him,” Graham said.
Step two (now, this is the tricky part), “You’ve just got to make the perfect shot.”
Schilling, facing two of the state’s elite forwards in Graham, a Mr. Hockey award finalist, and Casey Mittelstadt, a projected first-round NHL draft pick, made 30 saves to lead Wayzata to a 5-3 victory on Saturday in the state Class 2A championship game at Xcel Energy Center.
“He’s hands down probably the best goalie I’ve seen,” said Mittelstadt who, like Graham, scored a goal for the Eagles.
Schilling, a senior, stopped 73 of the 78 shots he faced in the tournament to finish with a sparkling .936 save percentage.
Wayzata coach Pat O’Leary said Schilling “had his naysayers all year.” But his teammates had his back.
“He’s been a rock for our team all year,” defenseman Logan Lindstrand said.
“A brick wall,” chimed in defenseman Hank Sorensen.
Schilling deflected praise for his outstanding tournament performance just as deftly as he did repeated blasts from Mittelstadt, Graham and the rest of Eagles.
“That’s a great compliment by Casey, he’s gonna have a great career as well,” said Schilling, who finished in the top three in goals-against average and save percentage in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League last fall. “I’m just so proud of these guys.”
Schilling hasn’t received any postseason accolades. Not that he cares. He’s thrilled to be the goaltender who led Wayzata to the program’s first state title.
“That’s a huge accomplishment for the school and the city and our team,” Schilling said. “It’s unbelievable to say you are a state champ for once.”