Eastview claims another holiday trophy

Boys skaters win their division at Schwan Cup

Eastview goalie Zach Driscoll held three opponents to one goal each in the Schwan Cup boys hockey tournament. Photo by Rick Orndorf
Eastview goalie Zach Driscoll held three opponents to one goal each in the Schwan Cup boys hockey tournament. Photo by Rick Orndorf

After winning their division of the Schwan Cup hockey tournament, Eastview’s boys were given, appropriately enough, a cup. The Lightning’s next mission was to find something to put in the trophy.

It’s still high school hockey, so no champagne. Just a couple dozen cookies the Lightning passed around its locker room Saturday night.

Eastview defeated Centennial 3-1 in the Silver Division championship game of the Schwan Cup at Ridder Arena. A year ago, the Lightning won a holiday tournament in Rochester that helped propel the team to a strong second half of the season, and eventually a place in the state tournament. Eastview’s players and coaches are hoping this year’s tournament victory will lead to something similar.

“We’re hitting our stride now, 10 games into the season,” said forward John Snodgrass, a senior captain. “Schwan said they wanted us here, so to come here and win is a big honor. We feel pretty confident coming out of this.”

Solid defense was a staple of the Lightning’s play at the Schwan Cup. Eastview gave up only one goal in each of its three games. Eastview defeated Andover 4-1 in the quarterfinals and Roseville 2-1 in overtime in the semifinals.

Eastview (8-2) has allowed 13 goals in its eight victories. In its two losses (to Burnsville and Bloomington Jefferson), the Lightning had 10 goals against.

“We knew coming in this was a big tournament, and tightening up the D zone was a big thing for us,” said goalie Zach Driscoll, who has played all 10 of the Lightning’s games and saw his goals-against average drop to 2.08.

“We’ve been talking about that for a while, getting better on defense,” Eastview coach Drey Bradley said. “We were taking it for granted that Zach was going to make the save and we’ve been letting guys get behind us, get to rebounds, and we’ve been screening our own goalie.

“You learn a bit about yourselves as a team with three games back-to-back. We had some confidence going into the season, but we also had some things to reinforce, like D-zone.”

The Silver Division probably was the second-strongest among the four boys divisions at the Schwan Cup. State powers such as Edina and Hill-Murray played in the Gold Division, but the Silver had teams such as Centennial, which defeated seventh-ranked Duluth East in its season opener.

“There are some very good teams here,” Bradley said. “We knew we were going to get three good games and we played three good ones.”

Centennial scored 27 seconds into the championship game on the first shot it took at Driscoll. The Eastview goalie stopped Centennial’s other 19 shots while the Lightning staged a comeback.

Cole McDevitt scored on a power play with one second remaining in the first period. The score remained 1-1 until Tommy Hutsell scored on a wrist shot with 5:06 remaining. In the final two minutes, defenseman Keith Muehlbauer chipped the puck off the glass and McDevitt reached it in the Centennial zone. Centennial goalie Blake Miller stayed back in his net instead of trying to reach the puck before McDevitt, and paid for that decision when McDevitt fired a wrist shot between his pads.

“Those were a couple of big goals,” Driscoll said. “We buried at opportune times during this tournament.”

Hutsell’s overtime goal against Rosemount sent Eastview to the championship game. Brendan Kukowski scored in the first period, and Driscoll made 22 saves.

Snodgrass, the Lightning’s scoring leader, had a hat trick in the Andover game. Mitchell Cerrato assisted on all three of Snodgrass’ goals, and Kukowski had two assists. Muehlbauer had a power-play goal in the first period.

Eastview stands fourth in the South Suburban Conference at 3-2 and will return to league play when it faces Bloomington Kennedy at 2 p.m. Saturday at Apple Valley Sports Arena.