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Hollywood ending suits Orono just fine

By Loren Nelson, Legacy Hockey, 03/08/23, 11:30PM CST


Avery Anderson, nicknamed 'Showtime,' improvises to score in OT as Spartans beat Northfield in a state Class 1A quarterfinal

Orono’s Avery Anderson eludes Northfield's Ty Frank during Wednesday night’s state Class 1A quarterfinal. Anderson scored the game-winner in overtime. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

ST. PAUL — “Showtime” scored the showstopper. How else could the game have ended?

Loosely working off a script FedExed straight out of Hollywood, Orono’s Avery Anderson did what he always does Wednesday night — improvise.

Playing under the Xcel Energy Center’s bright lights and in front of a regional television audience, Anderson scored the winner in overtime in No. 4 seed Orono’s 2-1 state Class 1A quarterfinal victory over Northfield in typical Avery Anderson fashion.

Tangled with Northfield defenseman Ty Frank and unable to use his stick to tip Brody Finnegan’s point shot in overtime, Anderson dug through his bag of tricks and found another way to score. 

“I could tell the shot was coming and I tried to get my stick on it,” Anderson said. “He was doing a really good job of tying me up, so at that point I knew the only other body part that I could get on it was my skate. And it happened to go in.”

Seems like goals “happen to go in” all the time for Anderson. His winning goal Wednesday was his 17th of the season, second most to Bradley Walker’s 20. Anderson scored twice late in the third period of the Spartans’ 4-1 Section 2A championship game win over Delano.

“No one really had a doubt,” Walker said when asked if it was only fitting that it was Anderson, flashy nickname and all, who scored the winner. “We knew, we had confidence. We were going all night.”

Northfield goaltender Keaton Walock turned in a superb performance, stopping 48 shots, including 19 in the third period. No. 4-1A Orono (24-5-0), which plays a physical, punishing style, had a 7-1 advantage in shots in overtime as it wore down the No. 6-1A Raiders (23-6-0).

“That’s the game I play, that’s the game we play,” said Walker, a former football standout. “We’ve got skills guys, we’ve got a lot of role players on our team. We’re hard to play against, and I think that’s why we’ve had so much success this year.”

Walock, who leads the state with 10 shutouts, showed up at the postgame media session with his right eye nearly swollen shut. Turns out he’s been battling a bout of pinkeye.

“It’s a little alarming as a coach when the goalie’s eye is half closed,” Northfield coach Mike Luckraft said. 

Luckraft described an overtime tripping call on Northfield forward Will Cashin as “curious.” And although the Raiders, playing with a shortened bench, killed the penalty, they seemed to have little left in the tank in the aftermath.

Northfield junior Kamden Kaiser carries the puck over the blue line during Wednesday night’s state Class 1A quarterfinal game against Orono. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

Quick Recap

ST. PAUL — Avery Anderson scored on a deflection with 30.2 seconds left in overtime as No. 4 seed Orono beat No. 5 seed Northfield 2-1 on Wednesday in a state Class 1A quarterfinal at the Xcel Energy Center.

Anderson, nicknamed “Showtime,” redirected Brody Finnegan’s point shot with his skate to end the day’s final game and only one decided by fewer than three goals.

All of the scoring in regulation came in a span of 66 seconds in the second period. Bradley put No. 4-1A Orono (23-5-0) ahead 1-0 with 6:30 left in the period. Griffin Kennelly answered for No. 6-1A Northfield (23-5-0).

Senior goaltender Keaton Walock was outstanding for Northfield, finishing with 48 saves, including several during an Orono power play in overtime.

The game was rematch of a regular-season meeting between the teams. Orono beat Northfield 3-1 on Dec. 13 at Orono’s home rink.

Orono is making its first state tournament appearance since 2018, when it won its only state championship, taking the Class 1A title with a 2-1 victory over Alexandria.

Northfield is making its second state tournament appearance. The Raiders’ previous trip to St. Paul came in 2017.

Orono goalkeeper Brock Peyton turns aside a Northfield shot during Wednesday night’s state Class 1A quarterfinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

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