BY DAVID PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Delano-Rockford played “really well” in the first two periods of the section hockey title game against Breck last Thursday, but the game has three periods.
The game was tied 2-2 after the first period and Breck grabbed a one-goal lead after two hard fought periods. The fourth goal with 12 minutes left gave momentum to Breck, says coach Steve Brown about the 5-2 defeat.
The title game was reached after Delano-Rockford defeated Blake 5-1 in the semifinals. Adam McLain netted two goals with three assists. Eric Ylitalo had two goals and two assists, Jack Nelson added a goal and one assist and Justin Oja had two assists. Goalie Aaron Grangroth made 23 saves.
Goals against Breck were scored by Ylitalo and McLain with Oja getting two assists. Grangroth came up with 39 saves.
“Our top forward unit of Oja, McLain and Ylitalo was outstanding against Breck, matching their top unit with two goals each in the first period,” said Brown. “With about 12 minutes to go in the third period it was still a one-goal game.”
Brown said Delano-Rockford was real effective at capitalizing on its offensive chances. The defense was effective until the second half of the third period.
“Until that point we had been real good at getting pucks out of our zone and limiting second chances,” said Brown. “Breck builds its offense by putting pucks on the net and getting to the rebound. We really worked to limit those rebound opportunities.”
For the season, Brown said his players exceeded expectations after graduating 13 in 2012, having many holes to fill in the lineup. He adds how a number of young players had really good seasons.
Brown figured the team would get very good senior seasons from Ylitalo and McLain. The coach was also pleased with the senior seasons of Grangroth, Josh Dzurik, Levi Peterson and Mike Krueger.
“All six of these seniors were consistent performers all year long,” says Brown. “They continued to build on a tradition of hard work and commitment to Tiger hockey.”
A couple of juniors also had outstanding seasons, notes Brown. He said Oja kept getting better all season and Grant Prinsen “is a real force, certainly one of the best defensemen in the conference and the section.”
Brown said he is very optimistic about next season with the return of a number of major contributors.
“We believe that we should be very strong in our zone as we return solid goaltending and a very good corps of defensemen,” adds Brown. “Up front we graduate 74 of our 125 goals, so we will be looking for production from some additional forwards.”
Contact Dave Pedersen at [email protected]