SHOREVIEW — Everybody joined the party as the Stillwater boys’ hockey team kicked off the new year with a dominating performance in Thursday’s 9-1 Suburban East Conference victory over previous conference front-runner Mounds View at Shoreview Ice Arena.
Ten different players collected at least one point during the first period as the Ponies jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Stillwater (3-2-1 SEC, 6-4-1), which is unbeaten in its last four conference games, also scored three times in the second period to continue the assault while knocking Mounds View (3-1-2, 7-2-2) out of a first-place tie with Roseville (4-1-2, 6-5-2), a 1-0 winner over East Ridge on Thursday.
“It doesn’t surprise me that we won, but it does surprise me that we won in that fashion,” Ponies coach Pete Hamilton said. “When we play the way we talk about playing and focus on the little things, it was just kind of the perfect storm and our goals we scored were good goals.”
Stillwater is allowing just 1.8 goals per game this season and no other league team is allowing fewer than three goals per contest. Mounds View’s Andrew Bjorkland scored in the opening minute of the third period to spoil the shutout bid of goaltender Colton Anderson, who finished with 14 saves.
“Mounds View had some chances in the first, but he played well,” Hamilton said. “Who knows if they score some of those maybe it’s a different game. A bounce here and a bounce there could totally change that game, but he’s been pretty consistent for us.”
Stillwater’s depth and balance was on display during that opening period with Tyler Fitzsimmons scoring the first of his three goals less than two minutes into the game on an assist by Devin Cates, who helped on three goals on the night.
Brandon Jungmann, Chad Smith and Zach Fedie also scored in the first period before Fitzsimmons added his second goal at 13:58.
The Ponies scored twice during a five-minute power play in the first period and also received a power play goal from Nick Anderson in the final minute of the second period for an 8-0 lead. Peyton Gosso and Jungmann also scored in the second period for Stillwater, which held a 43-15 advantage in shots on goal and received at least one point from 13 different players.
“That’s kind of our team,” Hamilton said. “We have three lines and six (defensemen) who all contributed and that’s the nice thing about it when you can get balance like that. We were three for five on our power play, which was awesome. Guys were hitting each other on the tape and spreading it around to each other and shooting the puck.”
After the Mustangs finally broke through early in the third, Fitzsimmons completed his hat trick at 1:53 on the third assist of the game from Cates.
This marked the third straight victory for the Ponies against a Mounds View team that outscored three opponents by a combined 19-3 in winning the Bronze Division of the Schwan Cup last week.
“It think it was a very important game confidence wise, playing a team that won the Schwan Cup Bronze Division and playing a team you had to beat 1-0 in sections last year,” Hamilton said. “Their team is loaded with seniors, I think 14, so that’s a big game and our guys responded. As far as the season goes, every game is big and that’s what we try to focus on here and now, but this puts us right back in the driver’s seat where we can control our destiny. We now start another game and (this game) doesn’t matter.”
Stillwater 5 3 1 — 9
Mounds View 0 0 1 — 1
First period — 1. St, Tyler Fitzsimmons (Devin Cates) 1:25; 2. St, Brandon Jungmann (Josh Clark, Cates) 6:15; 3. St, Chad Smith (Jarrid Balz) 9:07; 4. St, Zach Fedie (Nick Anderson, Mitch Reinke) pp, 11:22; 5. St, Fitzsimmons (Reinke, Zach Eder-Zdechlik) pp, 13:58.
Second period — 6. St, Peyton Gosso (Blake Kohanek, Jake Cass) 3:13; 7. St, Jungmann (Cass, Fitzsimmons) 11:49; 8. Anderson (Reinke) pp, 16:01.
Third period — 1. MV, Andrew Bjorklund (AJ Rupert, Tucker Gran) pp, :21; 9. St, Fitzsimmons (Cates) 1:53.
Penalties — St, 3-6:00; MV, 5-31:00.
Saves — St (Colton Anderson) 9-5-0—14; MV (Brandon Smith) 15-14-5—34.