Faribault, MN – The u18 Team Midwest AA team (9-2) have started making a name for themselves. From winning Silver Stick Regionals in 2016, to competing with top AAA programs in 2017, to setting a new standard in 2018. Team Midwest had over 50 players compile in Des Moines this year for tryouts to assemble the team and the on-ice product is nothing to scoff about. “The way the team has grown over the last three years is pretty incredible, instead of begging teams for games, we have some top end programs asking us to play and we are making a name for ourselves.,” stated head coach Nick Harrahill.
One of the teams asking to play is the powerhouse Shattuck St. Mary’s. Team Midwest played them tight last year behind a great game in net by then goaltender, Luke Weberg and lost 4-2. Shattuck invited the team back right after that game and the two coaches planned it and had it on the schedule for 2018. “We were really looking forward to this game because we knew we could compete and played them tight last year and I felt we had a better team unity this year and better positive energy all the way around,” said Harrahill. Team unity and positive attitudes seems to be a theme for this team as two time captain of Team Midwest and current Des Moines Oak Leaf, Carter Hobbs mentioned “I think this year we are one team with one goal, everyone is buying into the systems and its working well, its less individuals and more of a team atmosphere,” the captain said.
With a handful of games under their belts, Team Midwest was ready to make a statement against one of the most known hockey programs in the world. In the first game Team Midwest jumped on Shattuck midway through the first period with assistant captain Ryan Carlson from Cedar Rapids banging in a shot off the goalie’s leg from the goal line. Shortly after, fellow RoughRider, Ben Pizzimenti knocked home the second goal of the game for Team Midwest to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Shattuck answered early in the period to cut the lead to 2-1. Mid way through the 3rd period, Shattuck made the mistake of taking a penalty and put out the lethal power play unit for Team Midwest. “Our powerplay units puck movement is incredible, they move the puck, find open ice, take a lot of shots, both units are very solid,” coach Harrahill said. The puck ended up on the teams leading scorer, Clark Krueger from the Capitals stick and he found a home to stretch it out to 3-1. Spencer Northway of the Oak Leafs took the team on his back the rest of the way with two back door saves and shutting the door home with 26 saves on 27 shots for the historic win for Team Midwest over Shattuck.
While the team celebrated, everyone knew there was a second game that needed to be played against Shattuck, assistant captain Dawson Zeutenhorst from the Oak Leafs the week before said “we are going to surprise some people and sweep Shattuck.” The captain did not want to disappoint as he started off the scoring early in the 1st period of game two to give Team Midwest an early 1-0 lead. The teams battled back and forth but then second year player from Waterloo, Nick Samuelson knocked home a backhanded glove side shot to stretch the game out to 2-0. After that goal, Shattuck started controlling the puck and goalie Eric Wisnousky responded. Wisnousky ended up making 15 saves alone in the 2nd period to keep the game at 2-1 at the end of 2 periods. Shattuck came out and scored an early goal in the 3rd to even the game at 3 a piece. The teams ended regulation tied and playing under NAPHL (North American Prospects Hockey League) format, went to a 3on3 overtime for four minutes. Both teams played very conservative and there was not a lot of scoring rushes, but Sioux City Metro, Max Beller rang one off the post for Team Midwest’s best opportunity of the overtime. Next came the shootout. “The shootout was wild because I knew the guy I was looking down the ice at was recruited from God knows where and was playing hockey every day. It’s intimidating knowing its your job to stop that, but it was incredibly fun,” Wisnousky said.
The shootout was a best of 3 and Clark Krueger was the lone goal scorer for Team Midwest and Shattuck also had 1 goal scorer in the best of 3, so next was sudden death shootout. Wisnousky stopped the fourth shooter who tried to sneak one five hole and then Carter Hobbs comes down the left side and put one low blocker to win the game and to sweep Shattuck by a score of 3-2. Wisnousky made 42 saves in this game for the win.
Team Midwest is back in action October 12th in Colorado for Silver Stick regionals with the hope of winning the title and attending the international finals in Sarnia, Ontario. You can watch the games live on facebook at u18 Team Midwest Hockey or follow on twitter @u18midwest.