After earning section titles two straight years, and four of the last five, the Mahtomedi Zephyrs were a bit miffed when they saw this year’s section seedings.
“We had a chips on our shoulders. Everybody doubted us,” said E.J. Charpentier, the Zephyr scoring leader. “We got seeded fourth. We were not too happy about that. We took that personally.”
After capturing yet another Section 4 title, beating White Bear Lake 15-9 on Wednesday evening in the finals, the Zephyrs rubbed it in a little. During the championship team photo, all the players, coaches and managers held up four fingers, rather than the usual No. 1 finger.
The Zephyrs (11-5) dominated the section finals at White Bear Lake. They led 10-1 at halftime and 15-4 early in the fourth period. The Bears closed the gap by scoring the last five goals.
Charpentier led Mahtomedi with seven goals. Connor Stoker had five. Erick Bloom notched six of the Bears’ nine goals.
“We knew our strengths matched well with their weaknesses, and we exploited that,” Stoker said.
Mahtomedi was seeded fourth because they had five losses in the regular season while Stillwater had none, Irondale two and White Bear Lake three.
But those five losses came against teams with a combined 53-10 record. One of them was Stillwater, which was 14-0 before Mahtomedi tripped them 13-11 in the section semifinals Monday.
Mahtomedi takes an 11-5 record (10-1 in the last 11 games) into the state tournament starting June 11.
Coach Pete Moosbrugger said it was “such a difficult year” with heavy rain limiting practice time, and a spate of injuries.
Fortunately, the Zephyrs finish their regular season earlier than most teams, and made great use of an open 10 days before playoffs.
“We left the last week of the season open, and we really needed that week and a half,” Moosbrugger said. “Number one, to get healthy. Number two, to fix what we needed to fix. We never had more than a day or two between games to fix things before that.”
Stillwater beat both the Bears and Mahtomedi by double-digit margins in the regular season but didn't reach finals thanks to the Zephyrs.
One senior who especially savored the championship was Stoker, who, last season, was injured early in their state quarterfinal win, then had to watch as they lost their next two games at state.
“That was tough to watch, last year,” Stoker said. “We knew we needed to come back. We had unfinished business.”
Gus Magnuson was in goal the first half, giving up just one goal. Xander Williams played the second half. William Lemire manned the nets for the Bears.
The other Mahtomedi goals were scored by a Ian Arnt, Nathaniel Graslewicz, and William Urbanski. Also scoring for the Bears were Thomas Boudreau (two) and Adam Woodcock one.