Zeyphyrs stay the course, rally to win over Tigers

by Pete Waggoner

     Audio Replay

St. Paul, MN - The best game of the quarterfinal round of the State Class A Boys’ Hockey tournament was saved for last.  The Mahtomedi Zephyrs erased a two goal deficit and stormed back with 5 unanswered goals to defeat the Delano Tigers 5-2 and  advance to the semi-final round.   

The Tigers snatched the 2-0 lead in the first period when they erupted for back-to-back goals by Jesse Peterson, on the power play, and Gunnar Paulson 1:57 apart midway through the frame. Delano took a 2-0 lead and plenty of momentum to the locker room.  

Mahtomedi would have none of that momentum thing and in the second period, took it right back from Delano, outshooting the Tigers 15-5.  Mahtomedi (21-8-0) struck on the powerplay on a goal by Billy Buttermore.   

“Their goal late on their power play in the second was not ideal,” Delano Head Coach Gerrit van Bergen said.  “We thought we had done a really nice job killing up the that point and they got a puck underneath two sticks onto the backside which we knew that’s where they wanted the puck to be. They were able to get it through and then just got an immediate shot that went all the way back across to the far corner, a pretty impressive shot one that Cade wouldn’t have a chance on.  At that point, if we get through that kill, I think that’s probably a momentum boost for us still up two-zero at that point.  Truthfully, I didn’t feel it slipping away until they tied it and they scored again right away. I thought we had some really good looks, some good chances, we had a number of pucks that sat in their crease that we couldn’t just get to pop.  I didn’t feel like it got away until it was already away.”

The Zephyrs  forechecked with tenacity and put the Tigers back on their heels after Buttermore’s power play goal.  Eventually, Mahtomedi would score 5 unanswered goals to put a stronghold on the game. 

The Tigers (22-7-0) worked to hold off the Zeyphyrs throughout the third period and were able to create chances of their own.  Yet, Mahtomedi defended and received some big saves by goaltender Ben Dardis.  With energy, the Zephyrs kept coming and did not let off the gas.  Adam Johnson broke free on a breakaway off a pass from Ethan Peterson at the Tiger blueline and beat Delano goaltender Cade Lommel to tie the game at three.  That would open the floodgates for Mahtomedi as they finished impressively. 

Just 1:08 later, JD Metz took a feed in the low slot off his shin gathered it, and worked to his forehand snapping it in the open net to the glove of Lommel.  Nikolai Dulak cashed in the insurance policy for the 4-2 lead and then an empty net goal by Colin Hagstrom proved to be the final margin.  

When asked about breaking offensively after the game.  Mahtomedi Head Coach Jeff Poeshl admitted it wasn’t just tonight his team needed break out and said, “We had been thinking that we had to break out for about a month, because we had been throwing pucks at the crease for a month and with no as much to show for it as we would like.  It’s about staying the course and you know, you look at any shot chart any goal chart and that’s where goals are scored.  We just had to keep doing it and we had guys getting to the net and  fortunate to have a couple go in.” 

The win lifts the Zephyrs to the semi-final round and a date with the Warroad Warriors.  Delano heads to Mariucci Arena to faceoff against Hutchinson to face off in the consolation round at noon.