By Rob LaPlante
It’s not often the team trailing in the third period of hockey games comes away victorious.
The St. Michael-Albertville boys’ hockey team strung together third period rallies on three different occasions, posting a 2-0-1 record in last week’s play.
The most impressive comeback came last Tuesday when trailing 3-1 to start the third period against Robbinsdale Armstrong. After STMA senior Jon Gibbs scored the game’s first goal, Armstrong took a 3-1 advantage into the third period. The Knights exploded for four unanswered third-period goals, including two from junior Brett Marshall. Senior Mitchell Schneider scored the eventual game winner at 10:53 of the period.
Sophomore Tyler Hayes added insurance by scoring his second goal of the season. Hayes assisted on the game tying goal from Marshall and senior David Anderson also added two assists. Senior goaltender Matt Borgen stopped 33 of 36 shots to earn the win.
“We had a great third period,” said head coach Jerr Johnson, who missed Tuesday’s win to attend personal matters. “We were hoping to piggy back off that.”
The Knights were able to carry their momentum into Thursday’s showdown with Mississippi 8 rival Cambridge-Isanti. Senior’s Cade Gamrath and Mike Ryan gave the Knights a 2-0 edge. Although the shots were a lopsided 28-16 in favor of STMA, the game would require their second comeback in as many games.
C-I would score the first of three special teams goal in the third period when Dustin Davis lit the lamp shorthanded at the 3:55 mark. Mitch Renstrom rallied the Bluejackets to a 3-2 lead scoring a pair of power play goals.
“We were a little disappointed with some of the calls out there,” said Johnson, who saw his team kill off three straight penalties, including a 5:00 major and a two-man disadvantage when junior Connor Spetz was nailed for checking from behind and junior Matt Kisch was called for high sticking. “We took a time out there to try and calm some of our players down.”
After surrendering the lead, the Knights responded at the 14:16 mark when senior Tony Bork took a centering pass from Kisch and Ryan and slammed home a one-timer past Bluejackets goalie Frank Maslow.
Playing shorthanded once again in overtime, the Knights completed its second comeback of the week after Hayes scored a highlight-reel goal lifted a wrist shot high into the right corner of the net giving STMA the 4-3 victory.
“I saw an opportunity to rush up and tip the puck past the guy and potentially go on an odd-man rush,” said Hayes, whose game winner came shorthanded. “I went down with Marshall trailing and the goalie left me an open shot.”
It was Hayes’ third goal in as many games and the young center said he has built some chemistry playing with linemates, Marshall and senior Nate Fischbach.
“We’ve been able to stick together through some line changes,” said Hayes, whose five points in five games match Marshall’s total and Fischbach has a goal and three assists. “We’ve developed a lot of chemistry. We’re just a lot of hard workers out there.”
“We’ve had some injuries this year but their line has been able to stay together and you can see how they play and support each other,” Johnson said. “It was great to be able to see Tyler, a young kid coming down with a lot of composure and he picked the corner and knocked the water bottle down.”
The final rally of the week came during Saturday’s 4-4 tie with Sartell-St. Stephen.
After falling behind 2-1 in the second period, Bork tied the game at two scoring his second of the contest. The Sabres scored a late goal in the second period to take a 3-2 lead into the final 17:00.
The Knights had to rally twice in the final period. Spetz tied the game 3-3 at the 2:42 mark and with 2:00 left in regulation, Fischbach evened the score 4-4 with assists from Marshall and Hayes.
Sophomore goalie Trent Olson made his first career varsity start in goal and stopped 23 shots to earn the tie.
The Knights 3-1-1 overall now hit the road for the first time this season. Thursday at 7 p.m. they are at Mound-Westonka and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. they are at Tartan. Hayes said the five-game home stretch helped build early season confidence.
“It’s nice,” he said. “It helps us get some good beginning of the season mojo going.”