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Mahtomedi draws up yet another winning play

By Loren Nelson, Legacy Hockey, 03/07/24, 12:00AM CST


Zephyrs get game winner from Gene Wegleitner on face-off play called Push

Mahtomedi senior Gene Wegleitner (22) scored the winning goal on Wednesday against Orono on a set face-off play called Push. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

This time the winning play was called Push.

“Not quite as creative as Lava Cake and some of the others,” Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschl said after Mahtomedi’s 5-2 victory over Orono on Wednesday in a state Class 1A quarterfinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Every year, it seems, the Zephyrs pull some sort of oddly named play out of their encyclopedia of them, and then work it to perfection on the way to victory. Last season Lava Cake was the rabbit-out-of-the-hat that helped Mahtomedi win a state title.

On this night, the Zephyrs went with Push.

Senior forward Gene Wegleitner’s lone face-off of the night came late in the third with the score tied at 2-2. Push was called, and push Wegleitner did, pushing the puck forward, beating his defender and then shoving the puck into the net between the leg pads of Orono goaltender Peyton Anderson.

“He does that play quite often,” Poeschl said. “Especially last year. He spent a lot of time on the JV and it was a bread-and-butter play.”

The goal, Wegleinter’s 12th of the season, even drew admiration from Orono coach Sean Fish, who could find few flaws in his team’s gutty performance.

“They set it up perfectly where we thought they were winning back,” Fish said. “Then they pushed it through our center’s legs and made a great individual play. That’s not anybody, I don’t think. I think that was just a great individual effort.”

Mahtomedi has become one of the state’s dominant Class 1A teams (two championships in the last four seasons) not so much because of their trick plays, but more so because guys like Wegleitner have the ability to execute them. Last season, it was another former JV player, Charlie Drage, who starred at the state tournament.

“I would say our coaches do a great job trying to teach us the system, and we just follow that,” Mahtomedi forward Jake Hodd-Chlebeck said about the program’s pipeline of talent. “It’s that simple.”

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