ST. PAUL - Minnetonka goaltender Kaizer Nelson’s best save Friday night might have come on a sliding Gavyn Thoreson.
Thoreson, Andover’s scoring phenom, barreling down the slot is a scary sight for any goaltender. Thoreson, with no intention of stopping, can be downright terrifying.
Yet there Nelson stood, perfectly happy to take one for the team.
“It was pretty great, honestly,” Nelson said Friday about his game-turning run-in with the Andover star after the Skippers beat the defending champion Huskies 4-1 in a state Class 2A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. “I think it was a little selfish on his part. I think he could have gotten up, but he just wanted to take a cheap shot at me. I’ll take that 100 out of 100 times.”
Thoreson had just scored to pull Andover to within 2-1 in the third period and the Huskies were on a power play when he was whistled for tripping for his part in the collision. Minnetonka’s Gavin Garry scored on what was, in effect a power play, popping home a close-range shot to conclude a tic-tac-toe passing play just seven seconds after Thoreson skated out of the box. The goal put No. 1-2A Minnetonka (28-2-0) ahead 3-1 with 7:30 to play.
“I think that goal (by Thoreson) had a chance to wake us up,” Andover coach Mark Manney said. “And then we got a power play with a chance to tie it. And then we take a stupid, offensive zone, selfish penalty and it took us right out of it.”
Agitating opposing players has long been a part of Thoreson’s repertoire, and he typically draws a penalty or two a game (including one on Friday) after heating opposing players to a boil. But there’s a breaking point to that approach, and Thoreson, tied for second in the state with 95 points, found it against Minnetonka.
Not that No. 5-2A Andover (22-7-1) was guaranteed a victory had Thoreson stayed out of the box. The Skippers outshot the Huskies 34-18, had a large edge in territorial play and, for the most part, held Andover’s terrific trio of forwards of Thoreson, Cooper Conway and Cayden Casey in check.
“We could have played them today, tomorrow, Tuesday, Friday of next week, it doesn’t matter,” Manney said. “We would have had to have things go pretty perfectly for us to win.”
Instead, it was the Skippers who had a near-flawless outing. Their biggest stars scored (Hagen Burrows in the first, Garry twice and Sam Scheetz with an empty-netter), their defense clogged the ice and protected the front of the net and Nelson looked much more comfortable in goal compared to Thursday.
“If you can contain that line like we did for two-and-one-half periods, you are doing something right,” Minnetonka coach Sean Goldsworthy said about Andover’s top trio. “They don’t need too many opportunities, they zip it around pretty good. You’ve just go to stick to it.”
Minnetonka’s victory sets up a third meeting this season against Edina (the Skippers won the previous two) in Saturday’s championship game. It will also be a rematch of the 2010 title game, won 4-2 by Edina.
ST. PAUL — Junior forward Gavin Garry scored twice as No. 1 seed Minnetonka beat defending state champion and No. 4 seed Andover 4-1 on Friday in a state Class 2A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Garry’s power-play goal with 7:30 remaining put No. 1-2A Minnetonka (28-2-0) ahead 3-1. The junior forward also scored the lone goal of the second period as the Skippers took a 2-0 lead. The goals give Garry 20 on the season, second on the team to Hagen Burrows’ 24.
Gavyn Thoreson’s goal 4:49 into the third period pulled Andover to within 2-1. No. 5-2A Andover (22-7-1) was on a power play midway through the third when Thoreson, tied for second in the state with 95 points, was called for a tripping penalty after sliding into and upending Minnetonka goalie Kaizer Nelson.
Garry scored his second goal seven seconds after Thoreson’s penalty expired.
Sam Scheetz added an empty-net goal with 1:10 remaining.
Minnetonka, the state’s No. 1-ranked team for most of the season, faces Edina in Saturday’s championship game. The Skippers beat Edina twice in the regular season. Saturday’s championship game will be a rematch of the 2010 title game, won 4-2 by the Hornets.