News, notes and tweets from Hockey Day Minnesota 2017 Saturday at Stillwater's Lowell Park, Xcel Energy Center and beyond.
Hockey Day Diary
A moment-by-moment look back at the 11th annual Hockey Day Minnesota. Click here to read.
Wild closes out Hockey Day 2017 in firebrand fashion
It was a thrilling end to a sensational day of hockey. Three goals 1 minute, 59 seconds apart from Erik Haula, Ryan Suter and Jason Zucker turned a nail-biter into a near route.
Here are three takeaways from the Western Conference-topping Wild's 5-3 victory, its 19th in its past 22 outings.
Badgers come back to topple Gophers in Madison
The Wisconsin Badgers erupted with four goals over their last two frames to defeat the Gophers 5-3 on home ice at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Five different Badgers had goals in the win, and two came on the power play. Wild prospect and first-round NHL Draft pick Luke Kunin tallied an assist, and Minnesota's goal scorers were Ryan Norman, Mike Szmatula and Justin Kloos.
Minnesota dropped to 14-6-2 on the season with a Big Ten record of 6-2-0-0 while Wisconsin improved to 11-8-1 and 4-2-0-0 in Big Ten play. Wisconsin secured the Border Battle victory a night after the Gophers alumni took home a 7-4 victory (and an improvised Axe) during pre-Hockey Day Minnesota festivities at Lowell Park.
Stillwater shuts out Minnetonka in girls game
The Stillwater Ponies gave the hometown crowd something to cheer for with a 2-0 shutout win over the Minnetonka Skippers to close out the Hockey Day Minnesota festivities at Lowell Park.
"The kids, the energy that the kids brought and how excited they were about being able to do this... that, for me, is what makes it all worth it," said Lee Gillespie, Stillwater's head coach.
Junior Abby Hagberg opened up the scoring in the third period, and sophomore Cassidy Jones closed out the game with a goal in the final minutes. Junior goaltender Olivia Knox made 25 saves to secure the victory, while Minnetonka head coach Eric Johnson allowed his three varsity goaltenders, junior Abby Manlove and seniors Rachael Ameling and Elizabeth Kubicek, to split time in the loss.
"I think we just really enjoyed the moment. The girls played hard, played well," Johnson said. "I think it's a great schowcase of girls high school hockey, two good teams battling it out."
Huskies top Mavericks in women's collegiate showdown
St. Cloud State and Minnesota State put on an entertaining show in the first-ever women's college Hockey Day Minnesota game, and the Huskies earned an extra point in the WCHA standings with a 4-3 win thanks to Shakopee native Lauren Hespenheide's shootout winner at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.
St. Cloud State (7-16-3, 5-13-2 WCHA) jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but its in-state, in-conference rival (6-18-3, 3-15-2) stormed back with a trio of goals of its own. After the game officially went down as a tie, Hespenheide capped a 3-2 shootout victory for the Huskies.
That gave St. Cloud State its first series sweep of the season.
Eden Prairie downs Stillwater in Class AA upset
Behind a dominant performance by senior forward Casey Mittelstadt, Eden Prairie upset Stillwater in the Class AA game on Hockey Day Minnesota. A late empty-net goal from the Eagles sealed the game at 4-1.
"Give credit to Stillwater; they're an unbelievable team," said Lee Smith, Eden Prairie's head coach. "They kept us on our heels the whole first period. But the second and third I felt like we started to play really good hockey, and it was a great game, no matter what."
Mittelstadt opened the scoring for the Eagles with the lone tally in the first period. Stillwater senior Matthew Stanton put the Ponies back into it in the second with a power-play goal, but Eden Prairie senior Hunter Johannes had an answer later in the frame, breaking the tie with a goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Tim Piechowski scored the third Eagles goal, and Mittelstadt finished off the game with an empty-netter.
For Mittelstadt, Hockey Day Minnesota and the experiences that came with it played a big role in his decision to stay at Eden Prairie for his senior year rather than opting to play juniors or graduate early and attend the University of Minnesota.
"You get to come back, play outside with your buddies; that's how it all started and that's how you fall in love with the game to start with," Mittelstadt said. "It shows how great hockey in Minnesota is and it's definitely good to get a win."
Mahtomedi defeats Thief River Falls in Class A matchup
The Mahtomedi Zephyrs opened Hockey Day Minnesota with a 3-0 victory against the Thief River Falls Prowlers.
Senior captain Luke Posner potted two goals, including one on the man advantage and one late in the third with the Prowlers' net empty. Mahtomedi's other tally was scored in the first by junior Sam Lapadat; the goal was the first of his high school career.
"That got us all going," said Posner, the Zephyrs' leading scorer this season. "It's so much fun; we were buzzing out there."
Junior goaltender Josh Campbell made 15 saves for the shutout win, and Prowlers goaltender Nick Corneliusen made 35 saves in the losing effort.
Mahtomedi typically doesn't allow players to wear the No. 1 but made an exception with its special Hockey Day, USA-themed sweaters for Campbell, who honored his late uncle by wearing the single digit. A former Mahtomedi netminder himself, Jeff Campbell was responsible for Josh's interest in hockey, specifically goaltending.
"It's very special," Josh said. "I think he's looking down smiling at us."
The Zephyrs improved to 9-7-0, and the Prowlers are now 8-8-0 on the season.
"It's kind of a double-edged sword," Thief River Falls coach Tim Bergland said. "We were excited to be here and still are. ... Hopefully it's not a once-in-a-lifetime [experience] -- you always want to try to do it -- but for these guys, it is. You try to soak it in that way, but obviously, it's a competitive game and you wanted to have a better showing.
Video: Drone Flyover: Hockey Day Minnesota Site