MARSHALL - The Marshall boys' hockey team nearly stole a victory from the clutches of the Willmar Cardinals on Saturday at Lockwood Motors Ice Arena. Nearly, but not quite.
After Quinn Horvath tied the game at 2-2 for the Tigers in the final 90 seconds of the third period, he nearly set up a game-winning goal for Marshall in overtime.
In the midst of a Tiger flurry, the senior wing sent a wrap-around chance sliding through the crease and onto the stick of linemate Alex Buysse. With the Willmar goalie out of position, Buysse had a wide-open net but was unable to cash in on the golden opportunity, sending his shot inches wide of the near post.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall’s Levi Hedman, right, tries to poke away the puck from Willmar’s Hunter Schneider during Saturday’s game in Marshall.
The Cardinals, with new life, caught their breath during a break in play and used the swing in momentum to their advantage.
A half-minute after the near miss for Marshall, Willmar's Hunter Schneider fired a wrist shot through a screen and into the top corner of the goal to give the Cardinals the 3-2 win 2 minutes, 38 seconds into sudden death.
Schneider, the state's leading scorer, factored in on all three Willmar goals, despite receiving extra attention from Tiger defensemen and coaches.
Willmar0 1 1 1-3
Marshall1 0 1 0-2
M-Levi Hedman (Alex Buysse, Andrew Bell) PP, 9:04
W-Hunter Schneider, 7:32
W-Zech Streed (Schneider, Preston Peterson) PP, 3:16
M-Quinn Horvath, 15:44
W-Schneider (Trey Tollefson), 2:38
Shots on Goal: W-20; M-18.
Goaltenders: W-Joe Benson (16 saves); M-Adam Cavazos (17 saves)
"He's a great player and that's why he's leading the state in points, there's a reason for that," Marshall head coach Dave Coudert said of Schneider. "But we kind of tried to tell the boys that you can't beat him with the stick, you've got to beat him with the body. We didn't really do that very well and that cost us two goals."
Schneider also scored Willmar's first goal at the 7:32 mark of the second period. Some slick stick-handling and a quick change in direction allowed Schneider to slip past a Marshall defender before snapping off a wrist shot that beat Marshall goalie Adam Cavazos high on his blocker side.
After Mason Campion got the start in a 4-1 win over Redwood Valley on Thursday, Cavazos was due up in the Tiger goalie rotation for Saturday. Though he ended up being credited with a loss, Coudert felt his senior keeper put together a strong effort between the pipes.
"I thought Adam was solid," Coudert said. "(Willmar) picked some good top shelf corners on him. Willmar's a great team, they just rebounded from a difficult loss and they put some pucks in some good places and made them count when they had to."
Cavazos turned aside 17 of the 20 shots he faced, but did his best work controlling his rebounds, limiting Willmar's second-chance opportunities to a few.
One second opportunity did come back to hurt the Tigers, however, as Zech Streed tapped an original effort by Schneider into an open net at the 3:16 mark of the third period.
Streed's goal, which gave Willmar a 2-1 lead, came midway through a five minute power play. Marshall's Tyler Untiedt was whistled for a boarding penalty 1:05 into the period.
Despite allowing a goal, the Tigers used an effective kill on the major infraction, holding the Cardinals to no more shots on the rest of the power play.
The penalty kill, or perhaps the goal, lit a fire under the Tigers, who finally started to play with the intensity that Coudert expected out of his team for the full game.
Marshall used the newfound energy to swing the momentum to their side. At the 8:17 mark of the period, the Tigers drew a penalty on Willmar but did not convert on the power play. Instead, the Tigers had to wait seven minutes before a Willmar timeout allowed them to pull Cavazos and set up a plan for their top line and an extra attacker.
"We just told them everyone has to be hard on the puck, outnumber (Willmar), and get the puck," Coudert said. "We didn't really test their goalie, but we felt he was a little shaky. So we just told them to get pucks on net and with that line (Horvath, Buysse, Beau Mikel), they feed off of each other and know where each other is going. We lucked out and (Quinn) was able to bang that puck home."
Horvath's snap shot snuck under the cross bar with 1:20 to play in regulation. Unfortunately for the Tigers (4-3 overall), the very nature of overtime and their inconsistent play early in the game proved to be their undoing.
"The message afterwards was we have to start early," Coudert said. "We finally turned it on about half way, the start of the third period, maybe, was when we finally showed up. We told (the team), when you only play one and a half periods you set yourself up to lose by one shot."
The Tigers have until Friday to allow Saturday's lessons to sink in, when Marshall travels to Le Sueur to face the Le Sueur-Henderson/St. Peter/Tri-City United Bulldogs.