Boys Hockey: Woodbury's season comes to an end on Tuesday night in section semifinals
After scoring nine goals in Saturday's section quarterfinals game, the Woodbury boys hockey team had confidence and momentum heading into the semifinals game on Tuesday night.
The Royals also knew their opponent. They knew it would be a fight to reach the section finals as No. 1 seed White Bear Lake played them on Tuesday night.
The two teams squared off twice during the regular season and both games ended closely. White Bear Lake won both of the meetings with a 5-4 overtime win in January and a 1-0 win in February.
The Bears made it three wins this season as they defeated the Royals 6-0 on Tuesday night to end Woodbury's season.
"I'm proud of how our players played tonight and what they were able to do this season," said Woodbury's head coach Wes Bolin. "We knew White Bear Lake was going to come out tough with our close games this season."
After the first period, it was a close game once again. The Bears put one goal on the board to have a 1-0 lead and the players were still confident on tying the game up and starting a new hockey game again.
Senior Zach Lanz and junior Quinn Krueger both learned a lot from their past encounters with White Bear Lake. They said that the Royals had to attack and be ready for a fast-paced game. They also knew the team had to stay loose because once the players become tense, that's when things go wrong.
""We noticed that in the second period that we were getting tense," Krueger said. "When you get loose, you find pucks on your sticks and we started noticing that in the third period."
The second period was in White Bear Lake's favor as the Bears connected on a couple of goals to make it a 3-0 lead. Even though it was 3-0, Bolin knew this game was still in reach.
At the intermission before the third period, he told the team that they just needed one goal and one shot to change the mentality of the game. White Bear Lake had all the confidence heading into the third period and Bolin said if the Royals were able to get a goal, it might change the momentum and the pace of the game.
To start the third period, Woodbury was controlling the puck the majority of the time. The Royals had some opportunities to take some shots on the goal, but none of them were able to get into the net.
After the first few minutes, White Bear Lake took back the control and connected on two goals to make it a 5-0 game. Then, the Bears made one more goal to end the game with a 6-0 win over Woodbury.
"This last month was a lot of fun for us and [the Irondale-St. Anthony win] was huge for us heading into this game," Lanz said. "We thought we could build off that momentum into this game."
Over the last month, the Woodbury boys hockey team has been one of the hottest teams in the Suburban East Conference. The Royals defeated East Ridge on the road on Jan. 24 with a 3-0 final score.
After that win, they lost to two strong conference opponents in Stillwater and Forest Lake. Once the month of February hit, it became all Woodbury.
Before the month came, Krueger said there was talk about Woodbury being a possible eight seed in the section tournament. In February, the Royals won the last four of their five regular season games with the only loss coming against White Bear Lake.
Woodbury took the win against Mounds View, Roseville, Park and Tartan. This allowed the Royals to jump up a few spots in the section tournament and end up as the No. 5 seed.
"It was a big month for us as a team and it was fun to carry this into the tournament," Krueger said.
That momentum from the regular season carried into the section tournament as Woodbury dominated in the quarterfinals with a 9-3 win over No. 4 seed Irondale-St. Anthony.
Bolin said the players were excited for this game on Tuesday night and ready to leave everything out on the ice. They did just that, but White Bear Lake just finished on top.
With the hockey season over, Bolin had to say goodbyes to the nine seniors on the team. It's a senior class that means a lot to the coach and the Woodbury hockey program.
"These seniors showed leadership both on and off the ice this season and seasons before," Bolin said. "They mean a lot to this program and I know they will do great things in the future."
The majority of these Royals played hockey before they came to high school whether it was in the youth programs in Woodbury or somewhere else. Many of these players knew each other when they came to the high school team so for Krueger, it's tough to say goodbye because there's been a long friendship.
Krueger said the junior class learned a lot from this senior class and hope to continue the legacy and traditions next season to continue building the Woodbury hockey program.
For Lanz, it's been a fun time to represent Woodbury hockey and play with his teammates throughout his high school career.
"I hope they keep riding this last month momentum into next season and come out ready to play," Lanz said. "Turn some heads next season and come in hot into the tournament next season and maybe make it to state hopefully. That's what I'd like to see."