Andover junior Tyler Tomberlin scored twice on the power play in the second period while junior goalie Chase Perry came up with some huge saves down the stretch as No. 19 ranked Andover skated off the ice with a 2-1 win at No. 9 Eden Prairie, Dec. 15.
After being outshot 21-12 in the first period, Andover mad the necessary changes to increase its offensive chances in the final two periods.
Calvin Rak found Tomberlin open on the backside of the play. Tomberlin’s patience paid off as he waited for the perfect spot to open up on the goal before ripping the puck past Eden Prairie’s Jake Kelly to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, 8:32 into the second period.
“I relied on Rak on that first one. He was there last year for me and this year too. He fed me in the slot and I put it home,” Tomberlin said about the goal.
Less than three minutes later Tomberlin scored again, this time the powerplay goal was set up by Zach Sitarz and Tyler Vold.
“It was a nice shot by my other lineman and I was in the right spot at the right time to burry it,” Tomberlin said as he stood on the redline where the rebound from Sitarzs’ shot fell, opening up a poor-angled shot attempt.
Down 2-0, despite controlling the first period of play, Eden Prairie wasn’t going to lay-down for Andover.
The Eagles made it 2-1 at the 14:34 mark of the second period with an even-strength goal as Luc Snuggerud lifted a rebound into the top of the goal, over a sprawling Chase Perry who made a tremendous initial save, one of a season-high 41 saves he posted.
Tomberlin added about the significance of the high-profile win: “This was our chance to get them back and we took advantage of it. Now we got two [wins] in a row and we hope to keep the train going.”
The Huskies rose back to the .500 mark with a 3-3-0 record thanks to a hard-fought win on the road that coach Mark Manney said will give his side plenty of confidence after what’s been a shaky start to the season between losses, players sick, injured or serving suspensions.
Bjorn Kjelstad missed the first three games of the season with a thigh contusion then left Satiurday’s game after the second period because of the flu.
Both sides returned the bulk of their lineups from last season, which the Eagles won 2-1, to add another level of pressure to succeed on the Huskies who struggled to sustain wins so far. Last year the Eagles physically intimidated the Huskies and Manney believed that Saturday’s game was starting to turn that way through the first period.
“They ran us off the mat in the first period,” he said. “Last year they had us shrinking and had our guys wondering about that this time. When you start the season slowly, you don’t have much confidence and after the first period they noticed it wasn’t that bad and obviously the power play goal gave us momentum and got the bench energized.”
Andover had its chances in the first period, but Eden Prairie’s confidence playing the puck and attacking on the forecheck was at a different level than the Huskies. Andover worked its counterattack offense well to create its scoring chances in the opening period which included multiple cross bars being hit.
Manney said his team has struggled to deal with trailing in games so far: “That happened against Wayzata and Centennial, as soon as we gave up a goal we felt sorry for ourselves and gave up more.”
Perry was as much of the reason why the Huskies had two wins in five games before Saturday’s game, but a change in mindset might help one of the state’s top netminders.
“It’s a little pressure on my shoulders and I kind of felt at the beginning of the season that I needed to perform and be the best goalie out there but I don’t need o be the best. I need to be my best and get the job done.”
Perry knew several of the Eagles from playing with or against them this fall in the Elite League, including forward Mason Bergh, their No. 2 scorer with eight points. Earlier in the day Bergh Tweeted his Elite League teammate, Perry, to see if he could allow Bergh to score against him.
“That got some attention in our locker room before the game,” Manney said. “But when he’s one like that, you almost have to get permission from him.”
The question for Andover now is how they can roll that confidence into next weekend’s match-up against Duluth East in Andover.
“We didn’t come out in the form we needed to be in,” Perry said, which sparked a team meeting. “We said we needed to get this together, you need to prove to everyone what Andover Huskies are and this is a great stepping stone for us.”