By Bruce Strand
Elk River Star News
Jacob Walker delivered the decisive goal as the Rogers Royals edged Champlin Park 4-3 for the Bronze Division championship of the Schwan Cup on Saturday, Dec. 28, at Ridder Arena.
Walker notched two goals and Matt Hellickson and Nate Weber one each as the Royals (9-2-1) beat the Rebels (4-6) for the second time this year, both 4-3.
“It’s a very nice win, a tournament title, and a big win in our section, too,” said Royals coach Justin Strunk.
“I have to give a lot of credit to our special teams. We were 2-for-2 on the power play and 4-for-4 on penalty kill. Our penalty kill is 98 percent for the year.”
The Royals beat Orono 5-3, Anoka 3-2 and Champlin Park to win the Bronze title. The Schwan Cup, the state’s biggest regular-season tournament, also has Gold and Silver divisions.
Hellickson and Weber notched the power play goals, the latter of which gave Rogers its first lead 3-2 at 11:35 of the third period.
Jacob Aberwalt pulled the Rebels back into a tie just 20 seconds later. But at 15:12, Jacobs found a small opening in front of the net after receiving a pass from Weber down low and quickly deposited the puck in the net for a 4-3 lead.
Bryce Plunkett and Danny Eggerichs had the earlier goals for Champlin Park with Aberwalt assisting on both. Strunk said the Royals gave special defensive attention to Plunkett, who had all three goals when the Rebels lost their season opener to Rogers.
Rogers goalie Jackson Nelson stopped 33 of 36 shots and Champlin’s John Brey was 23-for-27.
In earlier action, two quick goals by the same line early in the second period helped the Rogers Royals defeat the Anoka Tornadoes 3-2 in the Schwan tournament semifinals Friday in Blaine.
All the scoring took place in the second period.
Dustin Schoepke scored at :27 and 3:19, each time working with Nate Weber and Jacob Walker, for a 2-0 lead.
Anoka (4-5-1) drew even on goals by Travis Mashuga and Jordan Peterson, but Jason Roberge regained the lead at 10:19 with a goal assisted by Branden Cecil.
Rogers goalie Jackson Nelson stopped 30 of 32 shots and Anoka’s Nick Cameron was 27-for-30. Weber and Spencer Marchand made two assists each, and Travis Brown, Alex Lorman and Hellickson one each.
In Thursday’s game, two straight goals by Branden Cecil sparked a Rogers comeback as the Royals defeated Orono 5-3 in the first round of the Schwan Cup tournament Thursday.
The Royals (7-2-1) trailed 3-1 before Cecil scored at 6:23 and 13:37 of the second period, the latter of those shorthanded. The Royals took a 4-3 lead when Jacob Walker scored at 15:54 of the second.
That lead stood through the third period, with Spencer Marchand adding the clincher on an empty-net, shorthanded goal at 16:32.
Jason Roberge had the first goal for Rogers. Nate Weber assisted on three goals and Roberge on two goals. Walker had one assist.
Logan Kinsel delivered two goals for Orono and Tripp Renard had the other. The Spartans (6-4) had won four straight.
In the nets, Jackson Nelson stopped 20 of 23 for Rogers, and Jonathan Flakne was 25-for-30 for Orono.
The Royals will host Maple Grove Saturday, Jan. 4.