Minnetonka heads to Class AA title game, downs reigning state champs Andover
The Skippers look to win their first state title since 2018 after taking down reigning state champion Andover in the Class AA semifinal match
ST. PAUL — Minnetonka is headed to the Class AA state title match after defeating reigning state champions Andover, 4-1, in the semifinal round on Friday, March 10 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Minnetonka won their last state title back in 2018, which also happened to be the last time the team made a state tournament appearance. Many of the players who won the title for the Skippers that season went on to become players at the Division I level, including Bobby Brink (Denver / Philadelphia), Joey Molenaar (St. Cloud State), Josh Luedtke (St. Cloud State), Luke Loheit (Minnesota Duluth), Teddy Lagerback (Arizona State), Matt Koethe (Alaska Fairbanks) and Grant Docter (St. Thomas).
"They're very, very good," said Andover head coach Mark Manney after the game. "And you know, we could have played them today, tomorrow, Tuesday, Friday of next week, it doesn't matter. We would have had to have things go pretty perfectly for us to win."
"We didn't have it last night [in the quarterfinal match] and truth be told ... the game against Lakeville South was probably our worst game in six weeks," he added. "The moment might have been a little too big for a bunch of our guys."
The Skippers opened scoring early in the first period as Minnesota commit Javon Moore tipped the puck over to the end boards and onto the stick of teammate Hagen Burrows who scored from the right circle. Minnetonka doubled their lead in the second frame as Gavin Garry redirected a shot from teammate Danny Pasqua.
Andover netted their lone goal of the game midway through the third period. Star forward Gavyn Thoreson (St. Cloud State) scored from one knee off a feed from Cayden Casey (St. Lawrence) and Cooper Conway (Colorado College).
"We've been in a lot of situations and our guys haven't flinched or rattled all year, we've been through a lot of wars, so we're not gonna just panic when someone scores on us when we've been playing like we did," said Minnetonka head coach Sean Goldsworthy after the game.
The Huskies then had plenty of momentum after that goal and were awarded with a power-play opportunity a few minutes later, but that momentum was soon killed off as Thoreson took a penalty of his own as he slid into and tripped Minnetonka netminder Kaizer Nelson.
"I think that goal had a chance to wake us up, and then we got a power play, or a chance to tie it, right?" said Manney. "And then we take a stupid offensive zone selfish penalty and took us right out of it, so it killed any momentum we might have had."
"I think he [Gavyn Thoreson] was frustrated for sure, you know I think all players are when they get a little space normally and then they get that taken away from them in a game like this," he added. "They get frustrated and that's how he kind of shows his frustration."
"I think it was a little selfish on his part," said Skipper netminder Kaizer Nelson on the Thoreson penalty. "I think he could have got up but he just wanted to take a cheap shot at me, so I guess we'll take whatever we can get. I'll take that 100 out of 100 times."
An insurance goal was added for Minnetonka in the third frame as Garry netted his second tally of the game and Moore earned his second primary assist of the night. Sam Scheetz also tallied an empty net goal for the Skippers in the final two minutes of regulation.
The No. 1 Skippers are set to play No. 3 Edina for the Class AA title at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.
MINNETONKA 4, ANDOVER 1
First period scoring — 1. MTKA, Hagen Burrows (Javon Moore) 15:37
Penalties — MTKA, Liam Hupka (roughing) 6:10
Second period scoring — 1. MTKA, Gavin Garry (Danny Pasqua) 3:49
Penalties — AND, Gavyn Thoreson (holding) 7:41; MTKA, Max Krebsbach (holding) 14:03
Third period scoring — 1. AND, Gavyn Thoreson (Cayden Casey, Cooper Conway) 4:49; 3. MTKA, Garry (Moore, Burrows) 9:30; 4. MTKA, Sam Scheetz (unassisted) 15:50 (en)
Penalties — MTKA, Danny Klaers (tripping) 6:33; AND, Thoreson (tripping) 7:23
SOG: MTKA 10-13-10—33; AND, 3-6-9—18
Goalie Saves: MTKA, Kaizer Nelson 3-6-8—17 (1GA); AND, Beau Altman 9-12-8—30 (3GA)
Penalties-minutes: MTKA, 3-6; AND, 2-4
Power-play goals-opportunities: MTKA, 0-2; AND, 0-3