Boys' hockey: East Ridge advances with overtime win over Park
Sophomore forward Marco Troje scored a hat trick, including the game-winning goal in overtime, to lead a surging East Ridge to a 4-3 win over Park in the Section 3AA play-in game at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena Tuesday, Feb. 20.
“We found a way,” Troje said. “We knew the season was on the line. We had to all buy in.”
The win lifted the ninth-seeded Raptors to the section quarterfinal game at top-seeded, fourth-ranked, and defending section champion St. Thomas Academy (22-2-1) Thursday at 7 p.m.
Eighth-seeded Park finishes its season with a 9-15-2 record.
Ninth-seeded East Ridge improved to 14-12-0.
East Ridge was just 4-21-2 last season. They’ve improved that record by 10 wins so far this winter.
“It all comes down to the kids believing in each other and playing for one another,” said East Ridge coach Dustin Vogelgesang. “We’ve had some guys that have really stepped up on the score sheet. We’ve had really good goaltending by all of our goalies. We’ve scored the most power play goals ever in East Ridge history in the regular season and that’s a big deal.
“That flipped our one-goal game losses from last year I think to one-goal game wins this year,” Vogelgesang said. “Great turnaround and its all credit to the kids. They bought in and I’m very, very, very proud of them.”
Park swept the regular season series this winter, winning a pair of 3-2 games. And for a time Tuesday it looked that pattern would repeat itself. Park led 3-1 after two periods and still held a 3-2 lead with less than three minutes left.
But junior forward Tanner Stafne drilled in the game-tying goal with 2:20 left to send the game into overtime.
And that’s where the Raptors won it. Troje took a pass from Stafne and Caden Pratt and powered it home for the dramatic game-winner.
East Ridge dominated the game offensively, attempting a whopping 46 shots to just 18 for the Wolfpack.
The two teams skated to a 1-all tie in the first period.
Then junior Mason Porter scored back-to-back goals for the Wolfpack in the second period to lift Park to a 3-1 lead, the second on a power play from an assist by Ryan Lucas.
“I think we just stuck to our game well tonight,” East Ridge senior defender Luke Landin said. “I know when we got down 3-1 we stuck to our game plan. We knew we were getting chances throughout the game. We knew they were going to go in and battled hard in the third and they ended up going in.
“Everyone kind of found an extra gear in the third,” Landin added. “Some of the 50-50 battles that we maybe lost in the first and second periods we started to win in the third and that helped flip the game.”
East Ridge’s Troje cut the Park lead to 3-2 early in the third period and that’s where it stayed until the final minutes.
Park struggled down the stretch of the season, losing five of its last six games. East Ridge, on the other hand, has won four straight since Feb. 8.
“They outplayed us,” Park coach Jay Moser said of the Raptors. “We had our chances but for the most part I thought they had the better of the play.
“Our goalie kept us in it and made the save when he needed to,” Moser added. “We just didn’t have it to finish in the end. But it was a great game. At least we can fall back on that and say it was a good entertaining game.”
In Section 4AA, eighth-seeded Roseville defeated ninth-seeded Woodbury 4-1 in the section play-in game Tuesday at Aldrich Arena. The Royals ended their season at 5-20-1.