The Pirates watched a 3-1 lead disappear, but recovered to win in dramatic fashion.
A trip to Warroad for a semifinal game appeared to be more and more likely for the Pirates. They led Detroit Lakes 3-1 with just over 11 minutes to play and had out-shot the Lakers 25-5 coming into the last period. But they say a two goal lead is the hardest to keep and Detroit Lakes proved it to be accurate tying the game 3-3 with four minutes to go.
For the third straight year, a section quarterfinal game between Crookston and Detroit Lakes was heading to overtime. The shots on goal favored Crookston 31-15, but the Pirates still needed one more good one to advance.
“We had to dig deep for our seniors,” sophomore forward Ben Andringa said. “We all thought about our seniors and their careers. We want to go far this year.”
The Pirates did just that. Crookston gained control of the puck with Andringa and junior center Brock Heppner sprinting down the ice. A few exchanges and a mid-air shot later, and the Pirates were crashing into the glass celebrating Andringa’s winning goal.
Head Coach Josh Hardy would have easily enjoyed a 3-1 win in regulation, but acknowledged the significance of a overtime victory.
“It’s kind of fitting this one went to overtime after two double overtimes the last two years,” Hardy said. “We’re in overtime, we’re tired and it’s a lot of back-and-forth. Then Joey makes a nice pass to Ben, Ben carries the puck up and slides it over to Brock, Brock kicked it back over and Ben is pretty good with his stick and he was able to bang it home in midair.”
The Pirates wasted no time gaining an advantage. Junior forward Eric Delorme beat the Detroit Lakes goalie top shelf to score the game’s first goal and his team-leading 25th of the season. Senior defenseman Drew Dragseth and senior forward Ethan Magsam received credit for the assist.
About two minutes later during four-on-four, Magsam sent the puck in and, for the moment, gave Crookston a 2-0 lead. The officials converged, decided Magsam was offsides and took the goal away.
A minute went by, both teams still played a man short, and Magsam fired a shot that, this time, counted for his 12th of the year. Assists went to Delorme and senior defenseman Ben Trostad.
“It was disappointing to get one taken back, but Ethan just comes back out and buries another one on a beautiful pass from Ben Trostad,” Hardy said.
The Pirates dominated the first period offensively and defensively. Senior goaltender Cade Salentine did not record his first save until a few minutes into the second period.
“We were making smart plays with the puck and getting pucks into their zone,” Hardy said. “We’re getting shots on net and we just controlled the play for long stretches. That was a good start for us.”
Two power plays in the second frame gave Crookston a chance to add on, but the Lakers killed both 5-on-4s.
The Lakers went on their first power play of the period and cut the Pirates' lead in half with 2:14 to play in the second period.
Dragseth provided some insurance assisted by Delorme with his seventh goal of the year six minutes into the final period.
Detroit Lakes took advantage of another power play and inched closer down 3-2 with nine minutes to go. An unlucky bounce for Crookston with less than four minutes showing on the clock silenced the Crookston contingent and all of a sudden, the game went right back to the way it started and the Pirates needed time to fathom what just occurred.
“Before the game, we talked about winning the mental battle,” Hardy said. “In games like this, there’s going to be huge momentum and emotional swings. We knew if we could stay level-headed and positive, we’ll be in better shape. They got a couple of bounces late in the game and sometimes those are the ones that win playoff games. I’m really proud of the boys for staying in the moment there.”
Neither team could find the back of the net in the remaining time of regulation and Crookston Sports Center prepared for overtime.
The eight minute frame began counting down and fans watched both teams exchange possession and spend time in each other’s zone. Finally, with about three minutes left the Pirates broke loose and broke the hearts of the Lakers with a 4-3 win.
“Brock passed it to me, I passed it right back to him and then he got it over the defenseman’s stick,” Andringa said. “It hit my kneepad, I hit it down with my forearm and then just buried it.”
As can be expected, Hardy was more than pleased with Andringa’s 11th goal of the season.
“Big time for Ben Andringa to score,” Hardy said. “For Brock and Joe [Doda] too. That line has been a little frustrated because they haven’t been able to score like they’d like to. This team will go as far as they’re able to carry us. Everybody’s got a good first line, but it’s the second line that has to be the game-changer. I thought they played their best game of the year.”
The win serves as the third time the Pirates won in overtime this season. The first came against Warroad and the most recent against rival East Grand Forks.
Crookston will try to win two in a row against EGF when they play in the section semifinals on Saturday, February 24 in Warroad. The puck drops at 8:15 p.m.