Fans were turned away in the entrance at Plymouth Ice Center Friday afternoon, tickets had long been sold out. Parking was difficult, and fans of all affiliation mobbed every seat and walkway and were packed behind the glass three deep.
For a high school game in December.
That is hockey in Minnesota.
Nothing was settled in a battle of the unbeatens and teams considered by most as the top two in the state, as Minnetonka and Wayzata clashed to a 1-1 overtime draw in the spotlight game of the Premiere Holiday Classic Tournament at the PIC.
“You live for games where you play in an atmosphere like that,” Wayzata captain Cade De St. Hubert said. “When you battle in practice, you imagine moments like this. Now, seeing it with the crowd, it really gets everyone going.
“Some guys leave (high school early), but everyone returned for us, and everyone returned for them, and there’s a reason for that. You live to play for moments like that, playing with your buddies.”
Minnetonka, the defending state champions with eight Division I commits, are riding a 31-game unbeaten streak. The Skippers (10-0-1) and No. 1 in Legacy Hockey's latest Class 2A rankings, struck first when bottom-six winger David Baer scored through a screen from the low right circle five minutes into the third to push them ahead for a little while.
Wayzata (10-0-2) scored the equalizer 12 minutes into the third when Rhys Wallin knocked in a greasy goal following an offensive zone faceoff.
Wayzata was the last team to beat Minnetonka (in the regular season a year ago). The Trojans again did what they always do exceptionally well -- playing ultra-structured through the neutral zone.
Scoring chances developed moreso to Minnetonka's advantage, but shots played out in Wayzata’s favor 29-24.
Goldsworthy said Wayzata takes away the middle of the ice as well as any team the Skippers have played, and figures Minnetonka had four "Grade A" scoring chances in the third period and three more in overtime.
“We’ll get those,” Goldsworthy says of the missed scoring opportunities. “As the season goes along, I think we’ll do a better job finishing on those.”
Over the past three seasons, all five meetings between the teams have been decided by two goals or less, with Minnetonka holding a 4-1 advantage.
“We know what to expect when we play Wayzata,” Goldsworthy says. “It’s nothing new to us.”
The teams will meet again on Feb. 1 at Minnetonka.
Skippers goalie Hunter Bauer, who stopped 28 of 29 shots against the Trojans, says he’s looking forward to seeing them again.
“We’ve already circled that one on our calendar,” Bauer says. “We get them back at Pagel, we know it’s going to be a tough one, but we will see.”
Goldsworthy expects a similar type of atmosphere at Pagel, just two weeks before the start of section tournaments. Last season, Wayzata stole one from Minnetonka, a 3-1 triumph at Pagel on Jan. 7, the last time the Skippers have lost a game.
“This is why guys come back and play high school hockey," Goldsworthy said. "When you can play junior hockey, but you choose to come back, it’s because of this. There were probably 2,500 people in the building, and it was super fun. Everyone got better today, because this was a state-tournament caliber game just seven weeks into the season.
“I’m proud of both teams, and I think it’s a good showcase for high school hockey.”
The Friday matinee at a sold-out Plymouth Ice Center lived up to its hype as Minnetonka and Wayzata, both unbeaten and widely considered the top two Class 2A teams in the state, battled to a 1-1 draw.
Minnetonka, No. 1 in the latest Class 2A Legacy Hockey rankings, broke the stalemate 5 minutes into the third period on a shot from David Baer taken from the right circle to push the Skippers (10-0-1) ahead.
No. 2-2A Wayzata (10-0-2) answered later in the period when captain Rhys Wallin would bury a greasy goal following an uncontrolled face-off in the Minnetonka zone.
The Lake Conference foes will meet again during the regular season, a Feb. 1 meeting at the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
Wayzata goalie Evan Turek stopped 23 of 24 shots, while his counterpart, Hunter Bauer, made 28 saves on 29 shots.