It was an upset that broke the heart of both player and fan Thursday night. The Trojans seeded second in the section which afforded them a first round bye; while Albert Lea was seeded seventh they hosted Austin on Tuesday and made short work of them.
Statisticians and section rankings would give the edge to New Prague, but after the first period everyone knew this was not going to be an easy victory for either team. In the first, Ryan Drazen would take a penalty shot that would be defended by Albert Lea’s Griffin Wangen, Wagen would go on to stop 35 of 36 shots on goal from New Prague. The first would end scoreless with each team’s confidence growing.
At 10:14 in the second Colton Schmidt would score the lone goal for New Prague. During the second New Prague would also see the enforcement of a new Minnesota State High School League(MNSHL) ruling that would send Jack Strand to the box for contact to the head. New Prague would finish the second and start the third on penalty kill due to the five minute major assessed on Strand. This scene would be repeated late in the third as Strand sat in place of Jack Pexa(ten minute misconduct served on the bench); another five minute major for checking from behind would leave the Trojans shorthanded and would give Albert Lea all the opportunity they needed to tie it up at one a piece.
Overtime came and went as the rule book was pulled out to see what should be done next, MNSHL procedure is first an eight minute overtime, ice is resurfaced, then a seventeen minute overtime. Both would be scoreless as we prepared to enter the third overtime lasting eight minutes, but Albert Lea would need less than a minute to score.
It didn’t end with a break away down the center nor was it master piece drawn up before the game; it was two teams of young men that battled and fought for more than sixty minutes of play. Levi Hanson of Albert Lea would be the hero, standing in the right place at the right time with enough energy to knock the puck past Joe Morris. As things wrapped up and emotions were expressed, disbelief descended upon the home crowd like a heavy fog, so desperately did they yearn to be the ones in center ice with their arms raised, to be the ones shouting jubilant praise. Trojan hockey fans should be proud and pleased with their team; everything was left on the ice. Good job Trojans, let’s get them next year.