Chase Ellingson had front row tickets for last season’s boys state hockey tournament.
A score, no doubt. But chances are pretty good Ellingson will enjoy the view even better this week.
The Breck School ninth grader had a goal and two assists in helping the second-ranked Mustangs pull away for a 6-2 victory over Delano in the Section 2A championship game Feb. 28 at Parade Ice Gardens.
The state tournament appearance will be Breck’s 10th as a program, and fifth in a row.
But for guys like Ellingson, and most everybody else inside what was a joyous locker room in the background, it will fulfill a boyhood dream only hockey players grow up envisioning.
“It is the Minnesota high school hockey tournament,” said Ellingson. “It is crazy to even think about. We will all be living that dream.”
It turned into a reality thanks in large part to contributions from players like Ellingson, who shed any nerves this type of setting might after an up and down first period saw the teams head into the first intermission tied at two.
Breck controlled most of the tempo in the second, outshooting Delano 18-4. But it wasn’t until a last minute goal from Mark Sharp that the Mustangs were rewarded.
Sharp scored with just 23 seconds left in the middle frame, depositing a shot after Ellingson found him with a perfect cross-crease dish.
Ellingson then pushed the Breck lead with a goal 3:59 into the third. Twenty-one seconds later, he fed Michael Orke to make it a 5-2 game.
The Mustangs top-line of Matt Colford, Jack O’Connor and Thomas Lindstrom accounted for the Breck goals in the first period. Those guys have been through this. That, however, is about it.
“We took a hand count earlier this week, and I think there are only five or six guys that have been to a tournament, and most of the ones that were there were fourth line guys,” said head coach Les Larson. “This never gets old, but it will exciting to bring a new group of guys down there.”
The trip could very well end up resulting in a new piece of hardware for the Breck trophy case.
Ranked No 2 much of the winter, the Mustangs received the No. 2 seed for the tournament.
They will open up against Marshal in the first Class A quarterfinal at 11 a.m. March 6.
St. Thomas Academy was awarded the top-seed in the field. The Cadets faced ST. Cloud Apollo in its opener.
Should Breck and St. Thomas meet in the March 9 final, it would mark the third game between the two teams this year.
The Cadets took both of the previous two games with identical 2-1 scores. They also beat Breck 1-0 in last year’s Class A state semifinals. St. Thomas would go on to win it all, while Breck ended up third.
Ellingson remembers, only because he was watching.
Come this week, that changes.
“When you are watching the tournament, you never really expect to be playing in it,” Ellingson said. “But now that we are, hopefully we can do something with it. We want to go down there and win a state championship. That will be our goal.”
Contact Nick Clark at [email protected]