Minnesota Hockey Magazine

Giles Not buying Walsh’s Account of Goal

As the final seconds ticked away on Saturday, Hill-Murray watched an era come to a close.

Featured Image: Edina's Anthony Walsh slips the puck through Hill Murray goatender, John Dugas to make it 4-1 for the Hornets. (Photo by Jeff Wegge)

Featured Image:
Edina’s Anthony Walsh slips the puck through Hill Murray goatender, John Dugas to make it 4-1 for the Hornets. (Photo by Jeff Wegge)

After his team’s loss in the Class AA final to Edina, Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner said he felt the Pioneers were poised to take over the game with a mid-to-late second period stretch in which Hill Murray began to exert its will over the Hornets.

“And then we had the blocked shot and they go in and score,” Lechner said.

Lechner was referring to Walsh’s block of a Dan Dolan shot from the right point which sprung Walsh in all alone on Pioneer goaltender John Dugas. To listen to Walsh describe it, the goal was the product of a calculated surgical strike.

“I was looking glove and then I looked over his blocker, shoulder and I thought, you know, ‘What the heck? His five hole is open so I might as well make my move and slip it through his five hole,’” Walsh said describing his goal as his teammates on either side of him failed to maintain a straight face.

Giles smiled and cut Walsh off, calling his description “. . . the biggest lie . . .” before laughter in the room drowned out the rest of his initial indictment.

“He didn’t look anywhere,” Giles said when the roomed settled down. “He was going 200 miles an hour; he knew he was going to go five hole.”

Walsh later admitted as much saying, when the team practices its breakaways, he looks to shoot between the goaltender’s legs roughly 85 percent of the time. “Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t but it worked that time and thank God that it did,” Walsh said.

Giles, too, was thankful it worked; not only for his team as a whole, but specifically for Walsh as well.

“I’ll tell you what, think about that, how much of a key situation that was. As soon as he got the puck on his stick I said, ‘You want to know something? He deserves something special to happen’ and he made something special.

“Anthony has worked extremely hard on his game for a couple years here and you saw some of the results later going down the stretch here. It was no fluke and no accident that he got key goals in key games for us.”

On an Edina team full of what he described as” characters, Giles said Walsh just might be the character.

“He’s just one of those kids that you’ll never forget that you had on your hockey teams.”

 

End of an era at Hill Murray

Speaking of unforgettable players, the 2A championship game marked the end of Hill-Murray captain Zach Lavalle’s remarkable five-year career as a Pioneer. LaValle’s legacy includes the four state tournament teams he was part of, two of which he captained to the title game, and his school record 197 points (84-113—197).

Success has followed LaValle throughout his time at Hill Murray and not just on the ice.

“He had four high school hockey tournaments and two football and one baseball,” said Lechner whose Pioneers are a cumulative 120-29-4 (.797) since LaValle’s arrival the fall of 2009. “And I’ve been blessed to be able to be able to coach him in baseball and hockey.”

While Bill Lechner’s bench persona is that of a predominantly stoic figure guiding the Pioneers with a steady hand, the most successful coach in school history has demonstrated limited success in masking his emotions on state tournament press podiums over the years, especially when it involves expressing admiration for his players. Saturday night was no exception when asked about his two-year captain.

“It’s a little emotional but you know, he’s such a good person,” Lechner said with television camera lights reflecting off of his glossy-eyed stare. “On and off the field, in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in life.”

“We’re proud of him but life goes on. He’s got to go on without us and we’re going to support him wherever his dreams take him.”

 

St. Thomas Academy goes out on top

The Cadets concluded their run as a Class A powerhouse with a dramatic and controversial come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Hermantown in the championship game for their third consecutive title. St. Thomas Academy leaves for Class 2A next season and the Hawks, runners-up for the third straight year, couldn’t be happier.

After thrashing St. Cloud Apollo 12-0 and East Grand Forks 11-0, STA found itself looking straight into the eyes of a 4-2 deficit to begin the final period. But the Cadets scored three times in the game’s final 17 minutes capped off by Tommy Novak’s game-winning power-play goal with just six seconds to play.

Matt Perry completed a hat trick during the rally while Ryan Kero led the Hawks with a goal and an assist.

Hermantown fans and coach Bruce Plante were furious when the Hawks’ Scott Wasbotten was called for holding with only 1:57 to go. They became further enraged when the Hawks fell victim to a similar infraction that went uncalled mere seconds before Novak’s goal.

After time expired, Plante stepped on the ice and unloaded on the officials but, by the time he entered the press room, the normally outspoken Plante chose his words carefully as MSHSL officials observed.

 

Turning our attention to not-so-breaking news . . .

The most foregone conclusion since the 1984 presidential election was finally made official on Sunday when Benilde-St. Margarets forward, and University of Wisconsin recruit, Grant Besse was named Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey. In 113 career games, Besse recorded 163 goals and 109 assists for 272 points, including 76 points (48-28—76) as a senior.

Besse is perhaps best known for his hat trick of shorthanded goals, among his five tallies overall, in the Red Knights’ 5-1 win over Hill-Murray on the 2012 Class AA state championship game.