By Shane Frederick firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mankato Free Press
MANKATO — Max Mettler didn’t want to get too emotional about his last game at All Seasons Arena.
The defenseman and the 11 other seniors on the Mankato West roster may have wrapped their home career with a 10-1 playoff victory over Le Sueur-Henderson/St. Peter/Tri-City United/Cleveland on Friday afternoon, but work remains.
“There’s some emotion,” said Mettler, who had two goals and an assist. “But if we go a long way in sections and maybe even state, it won’t be as harsh. We can’t look past tomorrow, though.”
The Scarlets (24-2-0) will play in the Section 1A semifinals at 5:30 p.m. today against Rochester Lourdes at the Rochester Recreation Center.
“We’re very excited for tomorrow,” said senior defenseman Derek Frentz, who had a hat trick and an assist for a four-point game. “We’ve been wanting to get back to that atmosphere since last year’s loss (in the section final).”
Frentz’s linemates, also seniors, added seven more points against the Bulldogs, with Cole Filler finishing with a goal and three assists and Nick Campbell scoring a goal and assisting on two others.
Zach Erickson scored two goals and had an assist, and fellow seniors Scott McKissick and Galt Goettl each finished with two assists.
Junior Tyler Brunton had West’s other goal.
“We took care of business,” Scarlets coach Curtis Doell said. “The fun begins tomorrow.”
The second-seeded Scarlets had a first-round bye and last played eight days ago. Friday’s game was postponed due to Thursday night’s winter storm.
But they showed little rust, using some pinpoint passing to grab a 2-0 lead.
Frentz got things started at the 3:38 mark. The Scarlets’ top scorer was left alone in front of the goal mouth, and Campbell fed him the puck from the corner of the rink. Filler also assisted.
“Nick has that sense for where Derek is on the ice,” Frentz said. “They’ve played together since they were squirts. To have that kind of chemistry and always know where the other guy is is nice to have.”
Less than three minutes later, Erickson finished off a surgical power play, firing in a shot from low in the right circle. Tyler Loe and Frentz assisted.
In between those goals, the Bulldogs appeared to tie the game, but the net had come loose before the puck went in.
The Scarlets added to their lead on a Filler short-handed breakaway at 13:20.
Eleven seconds later, the Bulldogs got on the board with a power-play goal by Isaac Westphal. Assists went to C.J. Pavlo and Mac Malecha.
West had a 13-6 shot advantage in the first period, and the score could have been worse if not for some outstanding saves by sophomore goaltender Zeke Haugen.
But the Bulldogs changed goalies for the second, putting in junior Killian Bixby.
Going into the period with power-play time remaining, the Scarlets took advantage of the fresh goalie. It took just five seconds for Frentz to make it 4-1. Filler, who won the period-opening faceoff assisted.
The Scarlets blew open the game in the final four minutes of the period, as Mettler, Frentz and Campbell made it 7-1 after two.
“It’s section time; we’re all prepared,” Mettler said. “Everyone came out flying and stayed that way, and the scoreboard showed it.”
Haugen and Bixby split goaltending duties in the third period for the Bulldogs (16-8-2). Haugen finished with 12 saves and Bixby stopped 20 shots, as West had a 42-13 shot advantage. Conor Wollenzien got the win in goal for West.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct the Bulldogs' goaltending statistics.