Apolo Anton Ohno could have problems keeping up with members of the White Bear Lake boys’ hockey team.The Bears used their speed to the fullest, as they cruised past Centennial 5-2 in a section 3AA semifinal Wednesday night at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.
“We had a great effort tonight,” said White Bear Lake coach Tim Sager.“We thought it would be a one goal game, with two quality programs going back and forth.We got some bounces, and our second and third lines really did a lot of good things tonight.”
Jake Hansen got the Bears on the board just into the game.He started up ice without any advantage, but turned on the jets, flew into the Centennial zone a ripped a shot from the right circle, beating goalie San Schreiner near post.
It was still 1-0 when Centennial answered with a power play goal early in the second.Jordan VanGilder blasted a shot that beat White Bear Lake goalie Zach Faust, but it nailed the post.The puck deflected through the slot to Craig Henry, who knocked it in the open net.
White Bear took the lead back for good with gone in the second.Tony Roth picked up the puck at center ice, turned a corner, and created a two on one. He got to the circle, then slid the puck over to Taylor Johnson who beat Schreiner high on the stick side.
More sheer speed helped the Bears take a 3-1 lead late in the second.Jim Kovacs had the puck and flew past a defender at the blue line, as David Grun went towards the net.Kovacs tried to center the puck, but it was partially blocked by a sliding Centennial defender.Grun was able to adjust, find the loose the puck, and flip a backhander up and over Schreiner.
Roth put things away with a short handed goal with just under remaining in the third period.He picked off a pass at center ice, broke away from the defenders and walked right in to make it 4-1.It was the same storyline all night; White Bear Lake had too much speed.
“We were moving our feet through neutral ice, we were finding it, the kids were moving the puck, and we were attacking.It was just great,” Sager said.
VanGilder scored to pull Centennial within 4-2 with left in the game, but a minute later Hansen added his second goal of the game on a breakaway to wrap things up.
White Bear will face Hill-Murray in the 3AA final Friday night at the Coliseum.Hill-Murray has only lost one game all year.
“We know what we need to do, and we got to concentrate on what our strengths are,” said Sager.“We know what their strengths are, so we got to try and counteract it.”