Mustangs topple White Bear in overtime

Victories over White Bear Lake have never been plentiful for the Mounds View High School boys hockey team and beating the Bears at their home rink has been impossible. That changed Thursday, Dec. 13 thanks to some perseverance by the Mustangs.

Despite coughing up a pair of two-goal leads and being whistled for two major penalties, Mounds View still found a way to overcome White Bear Lake 6-5 in overtime at the Vadnais Sports Center in Vadnais Heights, Minn.

Senior forward AJ Rupert's game-winning, power-play goal 85 seconds into the extra session sent Mounds View home a winner. Rupert carried the puck into the White Bear zone and eventually made his way back to the blue line, where he unleashed a shot that was deflected and found its way past Bears goaltender Michael St. Martin with one second left on the power play.

Rupert admitted that he was really just throwing the puck toward the net in hopes of getting a tip but he wasn't about to give up credit for the goal.

While Rupert's goal finally put the game away for good, Mounds View appeared to be in control a couple of times earlier in the game but couldn't shut down the Bears. When senior forward Ryan Elvidge lifted the stick of a White Bear player and banged the puck home four minutes into the third period, the Mustangs led 5-3 but the Bears weren't sunk. White Bear Lake rallied to force overtime on goals by Thomas Giller and Jake Wahlin, the second coming with Mounds View a skater short thanks to a five-minute boarding penalty on sophomore forward Grant Herbert.

The Bears also erased a two-goal deficit in the second period. After senior forward Andrew Bjorklund put Mounds View in front 3-1 with a goal 4:20 into the second period, White Bear scored the next two to tie the score. Mounds View avoided allowing the Bears to have all the momentum going into the third period thanks to a goal by senior forward Darian Romanko with 15 seconds left in the second.

Mounds View got all of this scoring started when junior Tucker Gran picked off a pass no more than five feet in front of the White Bear Lake net and buried the best scoring opportunity of the night. White Bear tied it three minutes later but Mounds View regained the lead on a power-play goal by junior forward Matt Hunt, who scored during a five-minute power play after the Bears' John Tauer was called for checking from behind and given the mandatory game disqualification.

The victory improves Mounds View's record to 4-1-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the Suburban East Conference. With everyone in the SEC except Cretin-Derham Hall and Forest Lake having played four league games, Mounds View sits atop the conference standings, one point ahead of second-place Hastings.

Next up for Mounds View, which has won three straight and has scored 23 goals in those victories, is a Saturday night home game against East Ridge on Dec. 15. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at Shoreview Arena.

The East Ridge contest is the Mustangs' last game before Christmas. Over the holiday break, Mounds View will participate in the Bronze Division of the Schwan Cup Dec. 26-28. The Mustangs' first game is Dec. 26 at 7:30 at the Super Rink against Forest Lake and the outcome of that contest will count in the conference standings.

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