So close to State: Tigers tipped by Wildcats

Greg Hunt / Union-Eagle Senior Cam Paulson pounded home the Tigers’ first goal against Chisago Lakes.  Photos by Greg Hun

Greg Hunt / Union-Eagle
Senior Cam Paulson pounded home the Tigers’ first goal against Chisago Lakes. Photos by Greg Hunt

In the Feb. 27 battle for the Section 5A boys hockey title, Chisago Lakes held a late lead to get past Princeton 5-4. It was excellent hockey with big hits and emotional play as both teams left it all out on the ice, witnessed by a standing-room-only crowd at the Isanti Arena.

“It was two really even teams going at it– just back and forth. Chisago is so similar to us. They play the same style, they clog the middle, they have talented forwards and they shoot the puck well. It just turned into who could out-score the other,” said Tiger Coach Jeff Hanson.

ening period, CL’s Brandon Gillespie scored on a screened shot on the power play for the game’s first goal. Tiger goalie Max Mattson sprawled for saves on the next stretch when the Wildcats turned up the heat. With time winding down, the Tigers worked past through the tough checking at the blue line, and Collin Buness found Cam Paulson on the doorstep for the tying goal with 2:23 left in the period.

The hit totals began climbing in the second period. With one minute to go in the stanza, Gillespie took advantage of a PHS defenseman slipping to the ice by scoring on a high breakaway shot for a 2-1 Wildcat lead.

Chisago Lakes held on a Tiger power play chance to start the third period despite three good shots on goal. Then at the 5:12 mark, Buness slid a shot through traffic which found the net for the tying goal. But two minutes later off a faceoff, CL’s Billy Knaak ripped a slapshot from 10-feet out to reclaim a 3-2 edge. Mattson followed with a quick glove save on another close CL chance right afterward.

senior Collin Buness maneuvered around a defenseman for Princeton’s third goal on the Wildcats.

Senior Collin Buness maneuvered around a defenseman to set up Princeton’s third goal on the Wildcats.

With just over four minutes to play, Buness broke into the Wildcat zone, made two slick moves and tucked the puck home on the right side to knot the score again at 3-3.

A questionable icing call gave the ‘Cats a faceoff in the Tiger end, and Blake Lizotte took advantage with a high shot over Mattson’s glove for a 4-3 lead with 2:09 to go. Twenty seconds later, Paulson drew an interference call to give the Tigers a power play, and Mattson was pulled for the extra attacker. CL’s Louis Kastenbauer then sent a rink-long shot into the empty net for a two-goal lead with 1:06 remaining.

The Tigers kept fighting, and A.J. Wesloh wristed a high shot past the ‘Cat goalie to cut it to 5-4 with 46 seconds left to play. Buness and Wesloh had one last chance while banging away on the doorstep, but the puck could not get past the mob of bodies.

The Tigers had a great fan following at the section finals and throughout the 2014 season.

The Tigers had a great fan following at the section finals and throughout the 2014 season.

“I’m just proud of our guys, and they played a heckuva game. We received great support from our school and our community. I’ve had so many text messages wishing us ‘good luck’ these past couple of days,” added Coach Hanson whose team finished with a 14-12 mark.

 • In the Class A quarterfinals March 5 at the Xcel Center, Chisago Lakes was defeated by No. 2 seed New Prague 5-2. The Wildcats then fell to Luverne 5-2 in the consolation semifinals March 6.
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