Finn Brink slalomed past one defender and jammed his shoulder into another as he shoveled the puck toward the net. One-handed. On his backhand. From a sharp angle. With time running out in the third period of a tie game.
Care to guess what happened next?
Brink’s power move and goal — of course he scored on the play — lifted Maple Grove to a 4-3 victory over St. Thomas Academy on Saturday afternoon at the St. Thomas Ice Arena.
A few minutes later, with the music thumping in the Maple Grove locker room, the senior forward busted out another set of moves during the Crimson’s postgame dance party.
“That’s what we do after every win,” said Brink, who scored twice and added an assist. “It’s fun. You saw the glasses? That’s the Player of the Game Award. That’s my first time winning it.”
Brink’s garish fluorescent and orange plastic eyewear only added to the festive atmosphere as the No. 4 Crimson (19-5-1) closed the regular season with a victory against another top-10 Class 2A team in No. 7 St. Thomas Academy (18-7-0), the likely No. 1 seed in Section 3AA.
“It’s special,” Brink said about the Crimson’s camaraderie. “We’ve been together for 10 or so years now. We know each other really well; we know everything about each other. (The choreographed postgame celebration) is a testament of 10 years of us growing together as a team.”
A lock to be named a Mr. Hockey finalist, Brink leads Maple Grove with 25 goals and 56 points. A Wisconsin commit, he was a key member of the Crimson’s top line last season, when they lost in double overtime in the state championship game to Andover. He’s been just as effective this season despite the departures of uber-talented linemates Josh Giuliani and Landen Gunderson.
“He’s a game-changer,” St. Thomas Academy coach Mike Randolph said about Brink, whose winning goal game with 55.1 seconds remaining. “Guys like that who are out there at the end, they find a way.”
Lucas Kickhofel scored twice in the opening half of the third period for St. Thomas Academy, tying the score at 3-3 and setting the stage for Brink's heroics.
Brink, who ripped a shot off the crossbar earlier in the third period, named Jay “Bird” Ellingson as one of the Crimson with the best dance moves. Ellingson’s goal late in the first period put Maple Grove ahead 3-1. He also had an assist.
“He’s got the moves like (Mick) Jagger,” Brink said with a grin.
“It’s definitely been a lot of fun growing up with him, playing hockey with him every day," Ellingson said about Brink. “We’re like brothers.”
Maple Grove coach Todd Bergland said he doesn’t know much about his players’ postgame dance ritual.
“I know they are good at it, though,” Bergland said. “At least they think they are good at it. I like that kind of thing because it does bring them together. And they enjoy doing it.
"We’ll leave it at that.”