Anoka-Hennepin’s Physically Impaired (PI) team (8-4) recovered from a tough semifinal loss to top South Suburban 8-5 in the third place game at Bloomington Jefferson High School March 17.
“Taking home hardware at any point is a great feeling, especially for these kids,” Mustangs coach Sue Opatz said. “It just feels really good because they did work as a team.”
Mustangs junior Erik Santa played a role in each of the eight goals, scoring five times enroute to the win and a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Corey Gieske, who joined Santa on the All-Tournament team, had two goals and three assists while Chris Walen rounded out the scoring.
Goalie Ben Schmitz turned away 18 shots and stayed poised in net over an intense final period in which the Flyers peppered the Mustangs goal.
The Mustangs and Flyers sat tied 2-2 after the first period, but a four-goal outburst in the second period helped propel the Mustangs ahead. The two sides each scored twice in the third period for the final tally.
Opatz said the key for the Mustangs was controlling the Flyers’ top three forwards. “We knew they had a really strong front three that worked well together zipping it across the court and we had to figure out how to stop [Karen Kreidler],” she said as Kreidler scored three of the Flyers’ goals and assisted on the other two. “We did it by putting Chris Whalen on her and he did a tremendous job.”
Recovering from a tough semifinal loss was key for the opening period.
“Once they figured out they could score against them, there was no stopping us,” Opatz said.
Anoka-Hennepin struggled to hit Santa in the neutral zone in the first period. “We weren’t getting the puck to him in that first period and we really needed to because he’s got a great shot.”
She also praised the way the defense played in front of Schmitz to keep the Flyers at bay.
Anoka-Hennepin, the No. 2 ranked team out of the North Division, began the tournament with 4-0 shutout over South Division’s third seed Rochester Area.
Geiske had the hat trick for the Mustangs and Walen added the fourth goal to set up a tough semifinal game against South Division’s top-seed Dakota United.
The Mustangs took a 2-0 lead into the second period on goals from Geiske and Santa and held a 4-3 advantage into the second intermission.
The Hawks scored five unanswered goals in the third period to reach the finals and send the Mustangs to the third place game.
Refocusing on the third place game was Opatz goal on Saturday afternoon.
“Letting them know that third place is an honorable place to be in and taking home the hardware was one of their big goals. They wanted to have something around their neck,” she said.
Click one of the images below to view slideshow. Photos by Bill Jones