Boys hockey: Schneider’s hat trick leads Cards past Sartell
SARTELL — Perhaps the Cardinals went into Bernick’s Arena Thursday with a chip on their shoulder.
In Section 6A voting earlier in the day, coaches dealt Willmar the No. 6 seed despite 6 section wins (now 7) and a 1-0-1 record against Fergus Falls, which got the nod at No. 3.
In any case, Hunter Schneider finished with 4 points and Joey Benson 28 saves in a 4-2 win over Sartell in the regular-season finale.
Schneider made some big plays to have a hand in the game’s first three goals that provide Willmar a 3-0 lead with 3:50 remaining in middle frame. The senior center pulled the trigger 2:26 into the game with winger Zech Streed on the set-up. Buzzy Tollefson made it 2-0 just 27 tics later with a single assist to Schneider.
Schneider connected again at 13:10 of in the second but the Sabres finally solved Willmar goalie Joey Benson with just over a minute left to trail 3-1 at the second break.
The score didn’t change until a climatic final minute of the third.
Sabres junior forward Matt Bakken scored on a power play at 16:18 shaving the Willmar lead to 3-2.
But the Sabres cage was now unguarded and Schneider rifle in another for the hat trick with 19 seconds left and the win.
The Sabres topped the Cards 3-1 on Jan. 10 at Willmar.
“It was a playoff atmosphere,” said coach Dan Tollefson. “They tied for the three seed in our section. I thought we played really well. We’re playing some good hockey.”
The Cardinals travel to Fergus Falls (12-10-3) where the teams tied 5-5 on Dec. 4. Willmar trapped the Otters 5-1 at home Jan. 17.
Fergus upset No. 2 seed St. Cloud Apollo last night at the MAC 5-4, though outshot 36 to 22.
Willmar 4, Sartell 2
Willmar (3-10-1, 13-11-1) 2 1 1 — 4
Sartell (5-9-2, 11-10-4) 0 1 1 — 2
FIRST PERIOD – Wil: Hunter Schneider (Zech Streed) 2:26 … Wil: Trey Tollefson (Schneider) 2:53
SECOND PERIOD – Wil: Schneider 13:10 … Sar: Kyle Erickson (Aaron Randall) 15:38
THIRD PERIOD – Sar: Matt Bakken (Spencer Zwiener) 16:18 pp … Wil: Schneider 16:41 empty net
GOALIE SAVES – Willmar: Joey Benson 6-11-11-28 … Sartell Sabres: Elliott Brookins 8-10-5-23