By Upper Midwest High School Elite League Staff
Southeast claims playoff title
Eagan senior Nick Kuchera scored four goals and added three assists, and Grand Forks (N.D.) Red River senior Bryan Nies stopped 67 of 69 shots to lead Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League regular season champion Team Southeast to three victories and the league’s playoff title on Oct. 28-30 at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
Team Southeast, which went 14-4-3 to win the Elite League’s regular season championship, beat Omaha AAA U18 10-0 in Friday’s quarterfinals, Team Northwest 2-1 in Saturday’s semifinals and Team North 5-1 in Sunday’s championship.
Nies stopped 27 of 28 shots in each of the victories over Team Northwest and Team North. He finished the playoffs with a 0.67 goals-against average and .971 save percentage.
Kuchera scored two goals and added two assists in the win over Omaha. He scored the winning goal late in the third period against Team Northwest and added a goal and an assist in the title-game triumph over Team North. He earned Minnesota Wild Player of the Week for his performance in the playoffs.
Team Northwest won Sunday’s third place game in thrilling fashion, beating Team Northeast 4-3 in double overtime on a goal by Benilde-St. Margaret’s junior Grant Besse. T.J. Roo of Totino-Grace set up the goal by carrying the puck into the Team Northeast zone, drawing a defender and whipping a pass through the crease at the last moment.
Defenseman Jake Horton of Benilde-St. Margaret’s scored twice in the final half of the third period for Team Northwest as it rallied from a 3-1 deficit.
The consolation final also was settled in double overtime as Matt Nelson, a junior defenseman from Edina, scored just less than 3 minutes into the second overtime session to give Team Southwest a 6-5 triumph over Great Plains.
In both double-overtime games on Sunday, the teams played four-on-four in the first overtime, which lasted 10 minutes. The second overtime period was set for 7 minutes, and the format was 3-on-3.
Great Plains reached the consolation final by winning its first game of the season, a 6-2 consolation round triumph over Team Wisconsin on Saturday. Avery Peterson of Grand Rapids scored twice and Nick Malvin of Blaine made 45 saves in the victory.
Team Wisconsin finished in seventh place with an 8-0 triumph over Omaha on Sunday. Eight players scored goals for Team Wisconsin, and Eddie Matsushima of Verona and Jason Ford of Waunakee each added two assists.
- The Bauer National Invitational Tournament, featuring two teams of players selected from the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, will be held Nov. 4-6 at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
- Nine players from regular season and playoff champion Team Southeast are on the Minnesota Red roster, including league scoring champion Justin Kloos of Lakeville South. Zach Thompson of Duluth Denfeld and Bryan Nies of Grand Forks Red River are the Minnesota Red goaltenders.
- Six players from playoff runner-up Team North are on the Minnesota White team, including five players from Duluth East. Goaltender Dylan Parker is among the Duluth East players selected for the tournament. The other Minnesota White goaltender is Michael Bitzer of Moorhead.
The 2011 Bauer National Invitational Tournament begins at 5:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4 at the New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope. The quarterfinal matchups are as follows:
Minnesota Red vs. Northwood School (N.Y.): 5:15 p.m. at New Hope-North
MDHL U-18 vs. Minnesota White: 5:45 p.m. at New Hope-South
New England Prep vs. Norway U-18: 8:15 p.m. at New Hope-South
Massachusetts All-Stars vs. Shattuck-St. Mary's: 7:45 p.m. at New Hope-North
Semifinal matchups will be played at 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 at the New Hope north arena, with the championship held at noon Sunday, Nov. 6 at the north arena.