Marlin boys shut out Brookings, win state hockey championshipFORT PIERRE — It was a battle of the goalies during the varsity boys’ hockey state championship game, and Mitchell Marlins goalie Weston Gauger came out on top.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
FORT PIERRE — It was a battle of the goalies during the varsity boys’ hockey state championship game, and Mitchell Marlins goalie Weston Gauger came out on top.
Gauger and the Marlins shut out Brookings 2-0 Sunday to win the state championship.
“It was do or die,” senior Karl Hellstrom said.
Brookings was undefeated in league play coming into the state tournament. The last two contests between the teams, Brookings came out on top.
On Jan. 7, Brookings defeated the Marlins 9-5. On Feb. 3, the Marlins fell 6-5.
“We had our head in the game (this time),” Karl Hellstrom said. “We knew how to beat these guys. We knew after the last game we played against (Brookings) that we could beat them. That’s the mindset we had going into this game,” Hellstrom said.
The game was scoreless until halfway into the first period when Taylor Herrick slipped one past Brookings goalie Hunter Rowbotham at the eight-minute mark.
Before that, play went back and forth between the two nets with each goalie making multiple saves.
“Their goalie was playing fantastic,” Marlins head coach John Lord said, adding his own goalie’s saves were “very key.”
“Wes is a sophomore goalie, and it’s his first year on varsity hockey. He had to step up and he was able to do that.”
Gauger said he knew it would be a close game, and there was going to be a lot of pressure on him to perform well.
“It was a little scary and intimidating,” Gauger said.
Even though the first two games against the Rangers didn’t end well for Mitchell, the losses were all but forgotten after clinching the state championship title.
Mitchell had 45 shots on goal compared to Brookings’ 25, but the Marlins were unable to get multiple shots against Rowbotham.
“That second period we had so many opportunities, it was just one after another after another,” Lord said. “It was so close.”
The Marlins didn’t score again until the 13th minute in the third period, when Spencer Lawrence flipped up the puck over Rowbotham’s shoulder.
“It feels so great. It was a phenomenal game,” Lawrence said. “I’m so glad we won and that we went out on top. Words can’t describe it, it’s unreal.”
Those were the only two goals of the game, but it was all the Marlins needed to come away with the title, their first since 2006.
“This game we worked our butts off,” Hellstrom said. “We deserve it.”
The Marlins ended their season 16-4.