Duluth Marshall shut out by Breck in Class A quarterfinalThird-ranked Breck (25-3-1) scored on its first three power-play opportunities to earn a berth in Friday's semifinals opposite St. Thomas Academy, another 7-0 winner over Little Falls in the first quarterfinal.
By: By Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune, Superior Telegram
ST. PAUL -- Duluth Marshall coach Brendan Flaherty preached to his players before today's boys hockey state tournament game against Breck that his team needed to score the first goal to have any chance of beating the heavily favored Mustangs.
The Hilltoppers didn't score the first goal. Or the second. Or the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh goals. Breck, led by an unstoppable power-play unit, beat Marshall 7-0 in a Minnesota Class A quarterfinal at Xcel Energy Center.
Third-ranked Breck (25-3-1) scored on its first three power-play opportunities to earn a berth in Friday's semifinals opposite St. Thomas Academy, another 7-0 winner over Little Falls in the first quarterfinal.
No. 6 Marshall (21-8) drops into the consolation bracket, where it will face Little Falls (19-10) at 10 a.m. Thursday at Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
"This is foreign to us, losing this first game and going to Mariucci," said Flaherty, whose teams won four straight quarterfinals from 2005-08. "We told them that there's no shame (going there); we get to play again and we want to rebound (today)."
Breck asserted its power-play dominance early with two first-period goals and another in the second. Thomas Lindstrom and Conor Andrle scored with a man-advantage to give the Mustangs a cushion after the opening 17 minutes.
Lindstrom benefited after a teammate's wraparound try ended up loose to Christian Coffman's left and the junior forward pounced on it and beat the goaltender to the short side at 3:27 for his team-leading 32nd goal this season.
Later in the period, another Lindstrom shot ended up escaping Coffman's grasp and landed in the crease. Andrle reached out and batted the puck in at 10:55 for his 28th goal of the season and a 2-0 lead.
"Power plays are huge," said senior forward Grant Opperman, one of the 10 Mr. Hockey finalists playing in this tournament. "Coach (Les Larson) tells us that special teams are going to decide the close games. To get the first one early is always big."
Breck's Matt Colford deked out defenseman Zach Isaacson deep in the Marshall zone and beat Coffman with a wrist shot 9:38 into the second period for his 20th goal of the season and the Mustangs' third of the day on the power play.
"Coach always talks about finishing your chances," Colford said. "I knew it would be a big one, and it broke their back and kept us rolling even more."
Opperman tacked on an even-strength goal, tying Lindstrom for the team lead with 32, on a backhanded wraparound at 16:06.
"We weren't working our game plan very well early," Flaherty said. "We wanted to stay out of the box and we wanted to get pucks deep (into the zone). I feel that's the best offensive team in the state and we wanted to take the puck out of their forwards' hands by getting the puck into their defensemen's hands, and we didn't do that."
Colford backhanded in his second goal of the game midway through the third and Wesley Iverson ripped a shot from the left circle past backup netminder Caden Flaherty to make it 6-0. Jack O'Connor added the final goal, while goalie Jack Kenney completed the shutout by stopping all 18 shots he faced.
Kenney was yanked during Breck's win in the Section 2A final, but he rebounded nicely following that performance.
"It feels good to bounce back from being pulled in the section final," Kenney said.
Larson said he never thought about replacing Kenney, who started 22 games this season.
"He's our guy, we're sticking with him, we love him and we're not trading him," the coach joked during a postgame news conference. "There was a blip on the screen that is ancient history as far as I'm concerned. He played fabulous today."
Peterson hopes the Hilltoppers can turn things around today in order to play in the fifth-place game Saturday.
"This is a bitter loss," he said. "No one wants to lose 7-0 at the state tournament. We don't want to go 0-2 down here, that's not anybody's goal. We're going to rebound (today) and we're going to win it."
Duluth Marshall 0-0-0--0
First period -- 1. Thomas Lindstrom (Wesley Iverson), 3:27 (pp); 2. Conor Andrle (Lindstrom, Grant Opperman), 10:55 (pp).
Second period -- 3. Matt Colford (Nate Breitenfeldt, Jack O'Connor), 9:38 (pp); 4. Opperman (Bob McQuillan), 16:06.
Third period -- 5. Colford (Joseph Oesterle, Lindstrom), 8:01; 6. Iverson (Opperman), 9:00; 7. Jack O'Connor (Breitenfeldt, Colford), 15:16.
Saves -- Christian Coffman, DM, 8-10-x--18; Caden Flaherty, DM, x-x-8--8; Jack Kenney, B, 9-5-4--18.
(c)2012 the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.)/Distributed by MCT Information Services