As the regular season flickers to its completion, perhaps there is no a hotter team in Class 2A than Holy Family.
The Fire continued to burn bright Thursday with a 5-2 road win over Holy Angels, extending a win streak that, in its sixth week, has reached 11 games.
In a sloppy, penalty-marred night where Holy Family played nearly half the game shorthanded, the Fire demonstrated through special teams what makes them so special. That, and a front line that can do it all, led by senior captain Parker Osborn.
Osborn had a goal and three assists and linemate Holden Pajor added two goals and an assist to help lead the Fire (19-5-0). They also were part of the group that successfully killed nine of 11 Holy Angels power plays.
“We’ve got the right combinations and the right chemistry, with three lines that can go,” Osborn said. “We feel like it’s all coming together at the end of the season.”
Osborn scored his team-leading 27th goal of the season shorthanded a little more than five minutes into the second period. It was symbolic of the way the game played out, and a testament to the team’s ultra-effective penalty kill that works at 92.1 percent, second-best in Class 2A behind Chanhassen (95.1).
Special teams have been a cornerstone for Holy Family, which boasts a power play that converts at a 40.1 percent clip, also second-best in 2A behind Maple Grove (44.3).
And at both ends, it’s Osborn that makes it all go. Blessed with quick acceleration and phenomenal hands with strong hockey sense, the senior forward has been a driving force for a Holy Family team heating up at the right time.
“Parker’s a game-changer,” Holy Family coach Erik Westrum said. “He has an offensive gift where he is always around the puck, and always looking to create chances. When he is out there, he is a difference maker.
“On the power play, the penalty kill, even strength … he’s always making stuff happen that makes his teammates better, and he makes it difficult on the other team.”
Osborn had a hand in every goal but the last, an empty-netter by Pajor, as he ran his points total to 65 for the season. Paired with Pajor’s 23 goals and 53 points, as well as third linemate Bryce Wiitala (15 goals and 43 points), a sophomore who sat out Thursday’s game because of injury, the Fire have a formidable front three that has eclipsed 150 points collectively.
Pajor, also a sophomore, marvels at the opportunity to play with, and learn from, the ultra-savvy Osborn.
“It’s a lot of fun to play with him,” Pajor says of Osborn. “His vision sets the play up so well and he’s great with puck support. He can score. He can do pretty much everything.”
Holy Family wraps up the regular season Saturday at home against Stillwater (14-7-3), then shifts the focus to the Section 2AA tournament, where the Fire will likely earn a No. 3 seed. The Fire will be a darkhorse pick behind No. 1 state-ranked Minnetonka and No. 3 Chanhassen.
“This is high school hockey, and it’s always the same thing this time of year,” Westrum said. “If your top guys play like they can play, and your goaltender gives up two or less goals, then you can beat anybody. You could play 100 games, and you might lose 97 of them. But you just need to win 98 and 99.”