ASHBURN, Va. -- Pulling the goaltender for an extra attacker did not create quite a large enough advantage for Wayzata to break the shutout, force a tie and find its way into another overtime.
It did, however, create the pressure that led to an even better opportunity.
A.J. Oare turned a 6-on-4 situation into the game-tying goal with 11.2 seconds left in regulation, then scored the game-winner 15:11 into overtime Monday to lead Wayzata High School to a 2-1 victory over its Minnesota Metro League rival Edina High School in the Pure Division championship game at the 2016 Toyota-USA Hockey High School National Championships at the Ashburn Ice House.
“We probably wouldn’t be having this conversation if that penalty hadn’t happened,” said Jonathan Lindahl, Wayzata’s coach. “But we earned that penalty. We had a guy driving to the net and he got hauled down.
“It gave us some extra ice, an extra body when we needed it.”
Overtimes are becoming inevitable when the Wayzata and Edina Junior Gold A teams meet in a playoff. As the minutes ticked away in Monday’s third period, Wayzata was hoping to force another extra session, this time more than 1,000 miles from home, instead of the typical commute they share with Edina through the Minneapolis suburbs.
Edina’s Colin Dunn protected the 1-0 lead with a save on Cole Dougherty from point-blank range with 4:25 remaining. It looked bleak for the Trojans, but Wayzata kept pushing and used the pressure in front to draw a penalty with 32.6 seconds left.
The puck did not leave the Edina defensive zone again until the game was tied.
Wayzata kept possession, continuing to work the puck until Dominick Bouta sent a pass from the left point to high in the right circle.
“We always knew we had a chance no matter what,” Oare said. “Then we got that power play with 30 seconds left.
“It was a good pass from Dom. I just teed it up and it went in.”
Oare wound up, and just like that, the Trojans and Hornets were back to overtime — again.
And, why wouldn’t they be?
The teams have played overtime state championship games in each of the past three seasons while playing on the Junior Gold A level for players who do not play on their school’s varsity or junior varsity teams.
Edina won this year’s state title in five overtimes after taking the 2015 final in seven (10-minute) overtimes to finish a game that was played over two days.
Wayzata won the 2014 state final in double overtime, making it 14 overtimes between the two teams in the last three state finals. They also played an invitational tournament game this season that Wayzata won in a shootout.
“We would have loved to have won in front of our fans at home, but coming here, it was a good redemption,” Oare said. “It means a lot for me to end the career that way.”
Oare went out a winner when he got to a rebound of a Clark Fallen shot and knocked in the game-deciding goal with time running out in the first 17-minute overtime session.
For Lindahl, there was no surprise to be caught in a tight game with Edina.
“We bring out the best out of each other,” the coach said. “Generally, we play our best when we play them and I think they play their best when they play us.
“They were very crisp, very clean games – the least penalized games we were in here.”
The Trojans made a timely penalty call count. In doing so, they claimed a title for Minnesota for the first time since USA Hockey started High School Nationals in 2010. The Pure Division is for teams that draw all their players from a single school, in the case of this year’s two finalists, they were just of the many teams their schools put on the ice each winter.
“This is not Minnesota’s highest level of high school hockey, but we’re proud of this level of hockey nonetheless,” said Lindahl, explaining that Junior Gold A shows the depth of talent in the state. “It’s a bit of a hidden secret.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.