White Bear Lake took a big step toward the conference hockey championship by turning back Cretin-Derham Hall 2-1 at home Saturday afternoon.
The Bears gave up the first goal but Grant Hofeld got the equalizer in the second period and Lleyton Roed delivered the game-winner with 2:54 left in the final period.
“Great win for the Bears,” coach Tim Sager said. “It’s been a very long time for us to sweep Cretin. It is a big win as they are in second place, right behind us.”
The Bears, who beat the Raiders 4-3 in December, swept them for the first time since 2011-12. The conference rivals split for four straight seasons after that, and in the last two seasons, the Bears were 0-3-1 against the Raiders.
The Bears (14-2-1 overall) are now 11-0-1 in the Suburban East Conference with four conference games left. Cretin-Derham Hall is 8-2 and Stillwater is next at 6-3. The Bears’ only non-win was a tie with East Ridge 1-1.
The Bears last won the SEC in 2014-15. Last year CDH was champion at 14-0-2 with the Bears right behind at 14-1-1.
Both teams defenses were stout throughout with the Bears permitting just 20 shots and the Raiders 19. The Bears killed three penalties and the Raiders killed four.
“Coach Chris Anderson does a great job preparing our defensive group and our penalty kill group,” Sager said. “All of them do a good job working together to get the puck up quickly to our forwards to transition to offense.”
Bear goalie Evan Foss stopped 19 of 20 shots, beaten only by CDH’s Zach Brydges in the second period.
The Bears tied the score 1-1 when Hofeld drilled a shot from the right side after Billy Rose made a nifty back-hand, two-on-one pass across the ice, with Roed also assisting. It was Hofeld’s 12th goal, tops on the team.
The Bears had a rare penalty shot with six minutes left in the game, after Raider goalie Croix Kochendorfer threw his stick at the puck. However, Chase Bill was not able to get the freebie past Kochendorfer.
However, Roed got the go-ahead goal, his ninth of the year, with a dart from the right side, assisted by Rose and Sam Newpower.
Along with four remaining conference games, the Bears also face three top-five teams in non-conference — Andover, Blaine and Edina.
“It should be a fun end to the season — great challenges for us to prepare for playoffs,” Sager said.