ROCHESTER — The team that had done it four times before played like it. The newbies, well, they learned a thing or two about playing in a section final.
Rochester Lourdes defeated Mankato West 6-1 in the championship game of the Section 1A boys hockey tournament on Wednesday night at the Rochester Rec Center, earning a fifth consecutive trip to state.
“They had a gear we could not match,” West coach Curtis Doell said.
High-scoring senior Alex Funk had four goals an assist for the Eagles, who outshot the Scarlets 30-18. Defenseman Karl Krecke had three assists.
“They’re great hockey players,” Doell said. “They showed up today and played with a passion and a drive we need to find to make that next step.”
The Scarlets are a young team with just three seniors and have high hopes of being back in the final next season.
“I think this will help a lot,” said junior goalie Jake Spiess, who was brilliant in the first period and stopped 20 of 25 shots before he was taken out in the third, “maybe calm our nerves for next year and be able to capitalize right away and get on top.
“We hope to get to state next year.”
But Spiess and Doell felt for the three seniors — Ryan Jutting, Ryan Lindquist and Nate Krueger — who won’t have that chance.
“I’m sorry for the seniors who couldn’t experience the ultimate dream of playing in the state high school tournament,” Doell said.
Ryan Jutting scored West’s lone goal, which made it 5-1 with about five minutes remaining in the game.
“It’s always tough your senior year,” Jutting said.
The first period was scoreless with the shots even at six apiece. However, Lourdes had the better scoring chances, and Spiess had to be on his game, as he had been throughout the playoffs.