Boys' Hockey: Stillwater's offense prevails in section semis
Woodbury was able to stick to its game plan and down top-seeded Stillwater's offense through the first 17 minutes of Tuesday's section semifinals game at Aldrich Arena.
The Class 2A, Section 4 playoff game was tied 0-0 after the first 17 minutes while the Ponies held a slim 10-8 margin in shots on goal.
But Stillwater's Luke Manning finally struck for a power play goal about eight minutes into the second period after the senior forward collected a rebound off the Woodbury crossbar and buried it in the back of the net. The goal was a wake-up call for the Ponies' offense as they scored twice more in the second period on their way to a 5-1 victory.
The Royals game plan seemed to work early as they were able to keep the score tied to the middle of the second period.
"We tried to get them off their game," senior forward Lucas Erickson said. "We tried to get them frustrated. They take a lot of penalties, and that was our goal to get on the power play and score goals there."
Manning's goal opened the floodgates for Stillwater as two more goals followed in the second period. Adam Eisele and Mason Bartosh added goals within two minutes of Manning's tiebreaking score.
"They put it on us right away," senior Ben Wahlin said. "It hurt. We bounced back, but it wasn't enough."
Wahlin scored a power-play goal at 7:48 of the third period to cut Woodbury's deficit to 3-1, but Stillwater's Austin Murr scored twice to keep the Ponies comfortably in the lead. Jim Heron was credited with an assist on Wahlin's goal.
Stillwater's Seth Eisele made 17 saves in goal to pick up the victory on Tuesday. Woodbury's Isaac Wuotila made 26 saves.
The high school careers of 12 seniors ended with Tuesday's loss to Stillwater. Head coach Wes Bolin talked about the improvements the Royals have made with the growth of this senior class. Four seasons ago Woodbury only won eight games as a program. This year, it finished with 15 wins.
"They gave some energy as a group," Bolin said. "They gave us energy, and we are going to remember this group for kind of picking us up after we had a few years where we didn't have a lot of wins."
Stillwater advanced to Friday's section finals game where it will play either Hill-Murray or Tartan for a spot in the state tournament.