Andover goalie Austin Brauns has been a key ingredient in the Huskie's' state tourney success. Photo by Matt Harrington
St. Paul, MN - The Andover Huskies rode the impressive goaltending of Austin Brauns who backstopped his team to a 4-2 semi-final win over the Hill-Murray Pioneers at the Minnesota State High School Hockey tournament in St. Paul.
The Pioneers (24-5-1) found themselves in familiar territory, trailing 1-0 as Moorhead and Andover each scored the game’s first goal. The Huskies Gavyn Thoreson, the overtime hero in the quarterfinals against Moorhead picked up where he left off with a goal at 3:52 of the first period. Cooper Conway assisted on the Thoreson goal with a beautiful feed from behind the net to the on coming Thoreson in the slot.
Conway, a Colorado College commit, missed 8 games that included 3 of their 5 losses on the season to Rogers (2-1), Grand Rapids (2-1), and Maple Grove (4-1). They are 18-2-1 with Conway in the line up and 5-3 with him out of the lineup. Thoreson has (7g-11-18pts) in his last 5 games who, along with Conway, is critical to his team’s success.
Huskies goaltender Brimsek Award candidate Austin Brauns was key to their quarterfinal win in making 44 saves against Moorhead. His counterpart, Jack Erickson was equally impressive in his team’s quarterfinal victory over Lakeville South in making 32 saves. The two goalies dueled earlier in the year that yielded a 2-1 Andover Overtime win. Brauns had 21 saves while Erickson had 17 saves in the game. The loss marked the only loss on the season for Erickson.
Both teams are well coached and it was clear the Northwest Suburban Conference’s Huskies would be in for a similar game with the Metro East Conference’s Pioneers. Hill-Murray tied the game at one at 3:14 of the second with an effort from Caden Sampair who guided the puck from the slot by sweeping a shot past Brauns.
Conway notched his second goal of the game after Thoreson maneuvered through a yard sale in the neutral zone of a stick and players. He stayed with the puck and Conway was there to slam home the puck for the first two goal lead for either team in the 5 periods of play against each other. The goal game at 16:50 and sent the Huskies to the locker room with the two goal lead.
That two goal lead lasted just 2:54 seconds into the third period as goaltender Jack Erickson made an incredible left pad save, throwing the puck out to the slot after he kicked his pad at the puck in a modified butterfly fashion. Sampair took the puck up ice and fed Dylan Godbout who launched a laser that juggled the water bottle high to the short side of Brauns to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Thoreson picked up his 2nd goal of the game with and empty net tally to lift his team to the state final.
The championship game will pit two Northwest Suburban Conference schools against each other. It marks the first time a school from that conference is playing for the championship since 2004. The glory days of the conference from 2000-2004 where teams captured 3 of 4 state class 2A titles. Blaine (2000), Elk River (2001), Anoka (2003), and Centennial (2004) all added championship trophies to their case.
The Huskies (24-5-1) and Crimson will face off for the coveted state championship tomorrow night at 7pm. It will also mark a first time champion as well.
Tag(s): State Of Hockey