by Samantha Lefebvre
Andover will compete in its first ever section 7AA final on March 1st at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. They will take on the number one ranked team in the state Duluth East.
The Huskies won a 7-6 overtime showdown against Forest Lake on Saturday Feb. 25 at the Amsoil arena in Duluth. Senior forward Davis Tollette scored the game winning goal throwing the Huskies into the championship game.
“My teammates did most of the work I just game to the net,” Tollette said of his biggest goal of the season after missing much of the hockey season after injuring his knee during a football game.
Andover started off the semifinal game with a goal in the first eight minutes by junior forward Christian Mohs, assisted by junior Brady Barthold and sophomore John Chorzempa.
Forest Lake fired back, responding with back-to-back goals to lead 2-1.
With just 44.3 seconds left in the first period the Huskies pressured Rangers goalie Brian Levorson and tied the game 2-2 with a goal by junior forward Calvin Rak to end the first period with a total of 16-7 shots on goal. Rak was assisted by junior Jared McComber and sophomore Tyler Tomberlin.
Andover came onto the ice for the second period with a strong offense. They took the first two goals in the first half of the period. Senior forward Tyler Jokinen gave the Huskies their lead back with a solo goal at 5:11. Freshman defenseman Tyler Vold capitalized on a power play opportunity to make it 4-2 Huskies with assist from Mohs and Barthold.
The two point lead was not enough to keep the Rangers at bay. Forest Lake scored three more goals off sophomore goalie Chase Perry in the second period to give them a 5-4 lead going into the final period.
Perry was coming off a knee injury after the 10-1 victory over St. Michael on Feb. 21.
“I went to extend my right leg and something just kind of popped and felt different,” Perry said. “So I skated off and had the trainer look at it and he thought it was the ACL, but it was really just cartalidge stuck under my knee.”
Both Perry and coach Mark Manney thought he was playing at about 70 percent of his ability.
“Yeah that is probably right,” Perry said about his knee’s performance level. “I was fighting through a lot of pain out there and I just had to do whatever it took to not let the puck in.”
Andover again came back strong offensively in the third period, scoring the first two goals.
In 7:23 Rak came through with his second goal of the day forcing a 5-5 tie. Both of Rak’s goals tied up the game, once in the first period and again during the third period.
Just over halfway through the final period Tomberlin put in his first goal of the day to pull ahead of the Rangers 6-5. He was assisted by Rak and junior Jared McComber.
Just when it looked like Andover would take the game 6-5, Forest Lake slid the puck past Perry in the final 1:31 to send the game into overtime tied 6-6.
“I think we saw a Chase player we haven’t seen all year, so you know he was battling it a little bit out there,” Manney said. “But not enough that he would come out of the game. You know we asked him but he was good enough to play but just wasn’t quite himself.”
The Huskies battled it out to get one more goal for the win but they came up empty handed and skated their way into an overtime shootout with the Rangers.
Over five minutes went by in the extra period before Tollette slid the puck in the net for the game winning goal with help from Jokinen and Kyle Gausman.
Each team had 38 shots on goal but Andover held the advantage in the extra session by an 8-2 margin. Perry made 32 saves.
“I’ll take the W,” Manney said. “If I knew we were going to give up six I would have probably thought we were going to have a sad long bus ride home.”
The Huskies 7-6 win over the Rangers advances them to the championship round of the section. They will face the top ranked team in in the state Duluth East at Amsoil arena on March 1.
“If we played them today think we would have seen that third period go by pretty quick because we would have seen running time,” Manney said about Duluth East. “We can’t come in with this effort to start the game and expect to even compete with them. The thing about Duluth East is that you can’t go in afraid of them. You have to go out and give your total effort.”
Despite not being used to the large arena, Perry says his team feels optimistic about their chances against the Greyhounds and hopes to get their first ever section title.
“To bring a section title back would mean a lot to us, we have never done it before,” Perry said. “So hopefully we can get there, and we can get a bunch of our fans up here supporting us. Oh I’m extatic cause we know what they got and we know what we got and we have a good shot.”