St. Paul, MN - The Minnesota State Class AA Boys’ Hockey Championship game featured the No.1 ranked Minnetonka Skippers and the No. 3 ranked Duluth East Greyhounds. The Skippers broke through for their first state tournament title in their sixth appearance with a hard fought 5-2 win. Matt Koethe had two goals for the Skippers while defenseman Grant Docter set up three goals to lead Minnetonka to the win.
The Skippers (27-2-2) were in search of their first ever state Class AA boys’ hockey championship. The game marked the second time the Skippers played for the title with their first time coming in 2010 where they finished second to Edina. The Hounds (25-3-3) were in search of their third state title and first since 1998.
Special teams took center stage and the Skippers won that battle of the special teams killing off all six Duluth East power plays while connecting on both of their man advantages.
High School hockey in Minnesota is viewed by all in the State of Hockey as a treasure and both teams were an incredible testimonial to the fact that the very best brand of the game was on display at the Xcel Energy Center. The two teams opened the game with an incredible level of intensity and comfort. The pace and skill level was incredible as the teams exchanged possession and scoring chances.
Ricky Lyle opened the scoring with a goal at 7:11 off a terrific feed from Austin Jouppi from the right corner. Lyle’s shot from the slot flew through the five hole of Skipper goalie Charlie Glockner.
The Skippers first goal came on the power play at 12:06 when Bobby Brink made a quick move with his hands on a rebound to tuck home the goal to tie the game. Docter made a slick move at the left point to freeze the Hounds winger and walked the slot to deliver the initial shot that Brink buried for his fourth of the tournament.
The Skippers took the lead at 13:44 on Matt Koethe’s drive to the net. He found and angle from the left circle and drove hard after he received a pass at the Hounds line from the left wing. Koethe went bar down with a terrific use of his edges, speed, balance, and smooth hands to finish a beautiful goal.
It was more of the same, intense, physical, and skilled hockey in the second by both teams. The Skippers took the 3-1 lead on a power play goal by Andrew Hicks at 3:17. It came at a time when Minnetonka was beginning to take control of the game. The sense of concern could creep in for most teams as the speed of Minnetonka was becoming problematic for the Duluth East.
It didn’t take long for the veteran Hounds team who dresses nine seniors to push back. One of them was Jouppi who picked up his second point of the game at 6:28 on a goal he scored much like Koethe’s. It was a drive to the net but his time from the right wing to beat Glockner sending the game to the intermission at 3-2.
The Skippers opened up a 4-2 lead on a goal by Joe Molenaar. He directed a shot-pass from the left point by Grant Docter in off the right pad of Kleive. The Hounds had a pair of power plays that they could not connect on and continued to work with a intensity and focus. That energy was met in equal part by the Skippers through the third period.
The Hounds came hard to the close of the game and with Kleive pulled, the Skippers pumped home the empty net goal to seal the game.