Anoka sends seniors off in style

Tornadoes win highlighted by seniors to complete season sweep of Champlin Park

Eleven Anoka seniors were honored before the Tornadoes closed out the regular season with a 4-1 win over rival Champlin Park on Senior Day at Anoka Area Ice Arena Saturday afternoon.

Seniors Travis Mashuga, Adam Orn, Connor Nikolaus and Gavin Putt factored in the scoring and senior goalie Robbie Goor made 21 saves but lost the shutout with 70 seconds left in the game.

“I really like the way we’re playing,” Anoka coach Todd Manthey said. “Our goaltender is playing well, our [defense], all three zones are playing well and we’ve been doing that for a month now. I’m excited for what we have.”

Anoka has won consecutive games four times this season but never three in a row.

They will have a shot to keep the streak alive against No. 5 Rogers. Fourth-seeded Anoka opens Section 5AA play against the Royals at the Ice Forum in Champlin Feb. 22. The teams skated to a 5-5 draw at Anoka Dec. 10 and Rogers edged Anoka 3-2 in the Schwan Cup semifinal Dec. 27.

“For us, I like that,” Manthey said about matching up against Royals.

Saturday’s win snapped a seven-game losing streak against Champlin Park, including two overtime losses last season including a 2-1 loss in the section opener.

Orn stayed true as Anoka’s leading scorer (22 assists and 26 points) with a season-high four points including one goal and three assists against the Rebels.

Orn sprung Mashuga loose on a shorthanded counterattack less than seven minutes into the game. Mashuga deked around a Rebel defenseman and slipped a backhand shot off another stick and past sophomore goalie John Brey for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.

Sophomore Gavin Putt took a pass from Orn at the 6:29 mark and hit fellow sophomore Blake Neumann on a tape-to-tape pass as he streaked between two Champlin Park defenseman on a breakaway.

Neumann snapped a shot over Brey’s glove to double Anoka’s lead.

“Opportunistic,” Manthey said. “That first one went off a stick or skate or something and the breakaway goal was a relief.”

It was a relief because Anoka out played Champlin Park through the first two periods but only built a 1-0 lead.

“We were letting them hang around a bit and we had a lot of good looks,” Manthey said after Anoka out shot the Rebels 24-12 through the first two periods.

Nikolaus was rewarded for his constant offensive pressure with a goal at the 9:51 mark of the third period to push the lead to 3-0. He beat a partially-screened Brey with a near-side wrist shot.

Orn added an insurance goal with 1:49 left with assists from sophomores Michael Talbot and Taylor O’Neill for a 4-0 lead.

Champlin Park broke the shut out bid with 1:10 left after Derek Smith fed Cole Groebner on a textbook 2-on-1 rush.

Anoka closed out the regular season with a 4-3 record in February and finished the regular season 12-12 overall. Those wins included a 4-0 shutout at Osseo, 5-1 win at Centennial and a 8-2 win over Coon Rapids. Two of those losses came against conference runner-up Elk River (3-1 and 4-1 scores) and the other was a 3-2 loss at Andover.

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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