Blaine and Maple Grove elected to play both Northwest Suburban Conference contests at neutral sites.
The first meeting came Dec. 26 at the Sports Authority Holiday Hockey Classic, organized by Benilde-St. Margaret’s at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center.
No. 4 Blaine jumped to a 3-0 lead less just over 10 minutes into the game and skated away with a 9-3 win in the tournament quarterfinals.
Blaine won 4-3 in a shootout over Lakeville North in the semifinals before falling flat in a 4-0 loss to No. 7 Wayzata in the championship.
“We’ve got a nice team and some guys who can play,” Blaine coach Dave Aus, who was pleased to see Blaine score 31 goals over the last three games against Coon Rapids and Robbinsdale Armstrong.
“We still made a lot of mistakes but to score 31 goals in the last three games is great,” he said.
Blaine and Maple Grove have provided some memorable moments in recent history like the Section 5AA final from two years ago, then splitting the contests last year at home and away.
What can be described as a fracas broke out with 6:50 left in the opening period after Blaine leading scorer Tyler Cline was driven hard into the end boards behind the Crimson goal. Shoving after the whistle escalated into punches thrown by Crimson goalie Cal McKenney among others. John Danielson replaced McKenney in goal.
After the referees regained order, six penalties (four to Maple Grove players) were issued for a total of 36 minutes. Ten-minute game misconduct penalties went to Maple Grove’s Josh Passolt and McKenney. Five minute majors were handed out to Maple Grove’s Dane Abernathy and Sam Ross. Blaine’s Ian Scheid took a four-minute double minor and Jesse Slawson had a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct minor.
In addition, Maple Grove’s Nate Erickson and Sam Huff were each issued 10-minute game misconduct penalties before the end of the opening period.
Maple Grove finished the game with 61 penalty minutes to Blaine’s 14.
Aside from the penalties, Blaine continued to impress with three skaters scoring twice and nine collecting points.
Sophomore Luke Notermann and brother Brandon Notermann, a senior, each had two goals. Senior Scheid also scored two goals and senior captain Alex Copa added three assists.
Brandon Notermann and Easton Brodzinski scored 35 seconds apart and Luke Notermann made it 3-0 at the 4:39 mark of the first period.
Aus said goalie Bailey Ketola made some nice stops when he needed to early on en route to 17 saves for the win.
With the penalties, special teams created unique situations like the rare three-on-three chances offering lots of room to move with the puck.
Blaine even had a five-on-three power play for upwards of eight minutes.
Aus said the challenge with the three-on-three situation isn’t something Blaine focuses on aside from cross-ice games.
“You go man-on-man in the d-zone, but we’re more skilled with the puck, but you’re worried if they start to gamble because everyone wants to score. We had some great opportunities,” he said. “So you have to make sure you send guys out there who are disciplined and able to do what they need to do on the defensive side.”
Jason Olson is at