Closing out the regular season with its fourth straight game against a ranked opponent, the Stillwater boys’ hockey team fell to defending state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s 6-2 in Saturday’s nonconference game at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.
The second-ranked Red Knights (20-5) used a four-goal third period to pull away — with the first three of those coming on a five-minute power play — to break open an otherwise close game on Senior Night for the Ponies.
“It was 2-1 after two periods so the guys were competing and playing, then we took a five-minute major penalty and their talent took over from there,” Ponies coach Phil Housley said. “(Grant) Besse, (Dan) Labosky and (T.J.) Moore just took over.”
After falling behind 3-1 on Labosky’s power play goal five minutes into the third period, Stillwater hit the post with a shot and was also stymied on a 2-on-1 while short-handed, but Besse followed with his second goal for the Red Knights just moments later for a 4-1 lead. Spencer Naas assisted on five of the six goals scored by the Red Knights.
“I was happy with our effort, it showed a lot of promise,” Housley said. “We can take a lot from that game, knowing we’re competing against one of the best teams in the state. I really like the last five or six games, maybe not on the scoreboard, but there’s promise there and we can build off that.”
Evan Fleming scored just 17 seconds into the game and Besse followed with a power play goal at 11:01 to give the Red Knights a 2-0 lead in the opening period. Aaron Kasinak answered for Stillwater with just one minute remaining in the period and it remained 2-1 following a scoreless second period.
The teams combined for 16 penalties, but while Stillwater converted on just one of six power plays, the Red Knights scored four goals in nine power play opportunities.
l Seedings for the Section 4AA tournament were announced on Sunday andthe Ponies received the No. 4 seed to set up a quarterfinal match-up against Mounds View in the last of four games on Saturday at Aldrich Arena. The other quarterfinals include: Hill-Murray vs. St. Paul Como Park at 11 a.m.; White Bear Lake vs. North St. Paul at 1 p.m.; and Tartan vs. Roseville at 5 p.m.
The semifinals will be held at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum on Feb. 26 and the finals are set for Friday, March 1.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s 2 0 4 — 6
Stillwater 1 0 1 — 2
First period — 1. B-SM, Evan Fleming (Spencer Naas, Chase Jungels) :17; 2. B-SM, Grant Besse (Johnny Austin, Naas) pp, 11:07; 1. St, Aaron Kasinak (Nick Anderson, Tyler Fitzsimmons) 16:00.
Second period — No scoring.
Third period — 3. B-SM, Dan Labosky (Naas) pp 4:58; 4. B-SM, Besse (Labosky, Naas) pp, 6:57; 5. B-SM, T.J. Moore (Naas, Labosky) pp, 8:18; 6. B-SM, Zack Hale (Seth Chumley, Chrisk Hickok), 9:29; 2. St, Anderson (Jon Peterson, Fitzsimmons) pp, 10:54.
Penalties — B-SM, 8-16:00; St, 8-19:00.
Saves — B-SM (Andrew Sprang) 3-9-7—19; St (Colton Anderson) 12-10-6—28.
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at email@example.com