There is just something about the sound of skates scraping on an outdoor rink, and the sound of sticks smacking the puck around and the dull thud of the puck bouncing against the boards that brings all those memories of playing hockey back. Its a rush. I have no doubt the fortunate teams that are chosen for this annual outdoor hockey showdown have to feel the same way. It has to be fun regardless, even though it is a game that counts in the standings. I always look forward to any opportunity to watch high school teams face off but there is something about these teams playing outdoors that makes it just that much more special.
The first match up features two teams that are in different directions. #4 ranked Wayzata has been amongst the state’s top teams all year long. Led by senior Tony Cameranesi and junior Mario Lucia both of whom were rated in Central Scouting’s Mid-Term rankings where they lead the Trojans attack as they hope to rally back after losing to Lake Conference rival Eden Prairie 4-3. Meanwhile it has been a rough season for one of Minnesota’s perennial hockey powers in Roseau. The Rams, who have always had the ability to overcome limitations in size of enrollment are enduring a rare sub .500 season. Roseau is led by senior Shane Omdahl who leads the Rams with 18 goals and 36 points. Roseau will have its hands full keeping Cameranesi and Lucia in check but if any team can surprise you its Roseau. With a ceremonial drop of the puck from Senator Al Franken who provided a bit of humor during the ceremonial first puck drop this game was ready to begin.
Tale of the Tape:
#4 Wayzata Trojans (15-5-2) ~ 3rd in the Lake Conference
Roseau Rams (10-12-0) ~ 5th in the Mariucci Conference
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1st Period Thoughts: Right from the drop of the puck it was abundantly obvious that Wayzata was the better skating team. Wayzata had considerably more speed and skill and early on it looked like a prolonged Trojans power play. Tony Cameranesi is a silky smooth skater and he was flying all over the ice. Mario Lucia was not as noticeable but through those first few minutes I really thought Wayzata was going to take the lead. Roseau was playing rope-a-dope taking every opportunity to chip the puck out of the zone and hoping to go on the attack during a Wayzata line change. Slowly, the Rams started to ramp up their game and they began to skate with Wayzata. Perhaps not completely equal terms but they were moving their feet more and anticipating the play better and rather quickly the time and space Wayzata had quickly disappeared. Roseau really started to take the body and the Rams were even able to get some shots on goal as Mike Johnson pulled the trigger on a shot that Wayzata’s Andrew MacIntyre struggled to stop. I thought MacIntyre was very shaky between the pipes and he was battling the puck all period long, no save seemed easy for him. At the other end of the ice, I thought Roseau’s Jared Strand was very solid. He looked poised and in control. Not bad first period, but it was obvious Roseau was going to play a patient game and wait for Wayzata to make a mistake in the neutral zone.
2nd Period Thoughts: The Trojans wasted little time taking the lead in the 2nd, taking advantage in some lazy play in the defensive zone by Justin Anderson who mishandled the biscuit where Wayzata’s Mario Lucia pounced on it and he fired a shot up over Strand’s shoulder to give the metro team a 1-0 lead. The goal awakened the Rams, who started to go on the attack and really pressing for the equalizer. A Roseau power play did not accomplish much as the aggressive Trojans penalty kill put the slower Rams on their heels a bit. One player who really was starting to fly around the ice for Roseau and who I thought was the Rams’ best overall scoring threat was Josh Erickson who had the wheels to create time and space. MacIntyre was still looking shaky in the Trojans’ crease. Roseau continued to hit, and the ice started to tilt into Wayzata’s zone. Erickson continued to motor around the ice and his great hustle would result in a goal as he won a battle for the puck behind the net and he brought it out front where he managed to get a quick snap shot on goal that MacIntyre stopped but the rebound bounced over to Omdahl who buried it to tie the game at 1-1. MacIntyre was way out of position and the goal seemed to energize Roseau who continued to pour it on and you could see a little more jump in the skates of the Rams. Another player who has impressed me thus far is Roseau’s sophomore defenseman Alex Ziegler. His poise with the puck was exceptional and he used the boards well to get himself out of trouble a few times.
3rd Period Thoughts: The 3rd period was controlled at the start by Wayzata, who continued to give Roseau problems with its speed. Cameranesi was the Trojans best threat, rifling a shot that struck Strand right in the mask, jarring it loose but the Roseau goalie did not hesitate to gather the puck to make the save as his mask fell to the ice. Roseau’s defense was not wasting movement by chasing the speedy Wayzata squad all over its zone and the result was they were able to keep the Trojans to the perimeter. At the halfway point in the period the teams switched sides and Roseau started to assert itself physically and on the forecheck. Roseau’s defense was pinching in and supporting the attack but the Rams were only able to find the time for a few quality shots that MacIntyre was just able to get a blocker on; including a nice shot by Omdahl that caught the Wayzata goalie by surprise. I liked the physical play of Roseau and their hitting slowed down Wayzata and momentum clearly was on the Rams side as both teams were knotted at 1-1 sending the game to overtime.
Overtime Thoughts: Roseau really was aggressive early, swarming all over Wayzata in the shaded part of the rink. Their aggressive play drew a cross checking penalty on Wayzata. Roseau just could not get much going on the power play, so Rams Head Coach Andy Lundbohm called a timeout. The timeout didn’t work out so well because on the initial faceoff the Rams lost the draw and the puck was pulled back to Wayzata’s senior defenseman Mark Richards and he skated a bit towards the slot before sliding a low lying shot that just was out of the reach of Strand and that was all she wrote as the puck found the back of the net, 2-1 win for the Trojans.
The loss had to be a heart breaker for Roseau who I thought really started to take control of the game during the latter half of the 3rd period. I sort of felt bad for Jared Strand who I thought played pretty well most of the game, but I think he’d want Richards’ shot back. Wayzata managed to hold off the unranked Roseau squad but I think they better have improved play from MacIntyre if they want to do much of anything in sectional play.
I have one last thing and that was about the broadcast which I felt sort of dropped the ball. Twins play-by-play broadcaster Dick Bremer was tabbed to perform that role for this game. He was joined by FSN’s Kevin Gorg who was the ‘analyst’ and then experienced hockey broadcaster Jim Rich as the reporter. Bremer was atrocious. His level of emotion was fine if he was calling a baseball game; if you like a bland fairly monotone performance. Jim Rich does a great job of doing play-by-play and he has been marvelous in that capacity for high school and for the world junior championships. Also, the idea to have both teams wearing their white sweaters did not make any sense and made it tough at times to determine who had the puck.
It was a great game to start off Hockey Day Minnesota!