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From 'embarrassment' to pride: Lourdes' seniors go out with heads held high

Rochester Lourdes' senior class is a big reason why the boys hockey program has had such a successful turnaround in a short time.

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Rochester Lourdes Eagles
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Jeff True will remember the 19 victories, the seven-game winning streak early in the season, and the stretch of eight wins in Lourdes’ final 10 regular-season games.

But, more than anything else, what True will remember about the 2021-22 Eagles boys hockey team is this: They were proud to wear anything with the Lourdes logo on it.

“It’s hard …,” an emotional True said after the Eagles suffered a nail-biting 4-3 season-ending loss to Albert Lea in the Section 1A semifinals on Saturday at the Rochester Recreation Center. “They’re an amazing group of young men.

“What they went through as sophomores, going 0-26, they talked about how it was embarrassing to wear Lourdes hockey stuff around town. They didn’t want to wear it, and now they’re proud to wear that gear again. They’re proud to put on the Lourdes sweater and the Lourdes hats and the Lourdes jackets.

“There was a moment there, where they didn’t want to wear that stuff around town or to the rink.”

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That embarrassment changed quickly over the past two seasons for the Lourdes’ seniors and their younger teammates. But the turnaround — from 0-26 two years ago to 19-8 this season — started with the group of guys who played their final game as Eagles on Saturday — forwards Matthew Mahoney, Thomas Benner, Cullen Chase, Brayden Magnuson, Owen Good, Andrew Teal, Brody Seim; and defensemen Charlie Kielty, Jackson Heim and Henry Radke.

That group — clearly battling through fatigue in the third period on Saturday — nearly earned win No. 20 this season, making a hard push in the final five minutes of the third period to tie the score. But Albert Lea clogged up shooting lanes in front of sophomore goalie Tanner Nelson — who was making just his second varsity start, after Tigers’ starting goalie Dakota Jahnke suffered a season-ending injury — and made it difficult for Lourdes to get clean looks at the net.

“We just ran out of gas,” True said. “Some of the guys were just tired … it’s section hockey, the nerves … I think they saw themselves in the section championship game and they were so nervous, the anxiety wore them out. Just like it does to us as adults, stress and anxiety wears down the body.

“They’re great kids, great young men, they gave their heart and soul tonight.”

True said his pregame speech to the team was mostly spent on the thought that Saturday’s game would be a physical battle and a low-scoring contest.

Then the teams went out and combined for six goals in the first period, the momentum ping-ponging from one end of the ice to the other in the first 17 minutes.

Mahoney opened the scoring 3:06 into the game, but Tim Chalmers answered for the Tigers 1:17 later. Joseph Yoon put Albert Lea up 2-1 at the 11:48 mark of the first, but it was then Lourdes’ turn to answer, and the Eagles did, as Thomas Benner netted his third goal of the season.

The 2-2 tie was short-lived, as Logan Olsen scored an unassisted goal for the Tigers with 1:23 to play in the first, but that lead lasted just 24 seconds, until Brayden Magnuson scored with :59 to play in the period, tying it 3-3.

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“That’s certainly not the way we anticipated the game going,” True said. “The roller-coaster of the ups and downs in the first was unexpected. They caught us on our heels a couple of times, there were some fluky things in our end and some fluky things in their end. It was just an odd few minutes.”

It looked like the back-and-forth would continue, as Yoon set up Max Edwin for a goal 3:33 into the second, giving the Tigers a 4-3 lead. But neither team was able to capitalize on opportunities from that point on.

Nelson made 24 saves for the Tigers, while Eagles goalie Xander Carter-Kleven finished with 20 stops.

Albert Lea will face New Prague at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Rochester Recreation Center in the Section 1A championship game. The winner goes to the Class A state tournament, which begins Wednesday, March 9, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

ALBERT LEA 4, LOURDES 3

Albert Lea 3-1-0 — 4

Lourdes 3-0-0 — 3

First period — 1. LRDS, Matthew Mahoney 28 (unassisted) 3:06. 2. AL, Tim Chalmers 18 (Jack Ladlie 13, Spencer VanBeek 14) 4:23. 3. AL, Joseph Yoon 29 (Ladlie 14, VanBeek 15) 11:48. 4. LRDS, Thomas Benner 3 (unassisted) 14:10. 5. AL, Logan Olsen 7 (unassisted) 15:37. 6. LRDS, Brayden Magnuson 3 (Mahoney 11, Colton Rich 13) 16:01. Second period — 7. AL, Max Edwin 10 (Yoon 26) 3:33. Third period — no scoring.

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Shots on goal — AL 11-9-4—24; LRDS 11-9-7—27. Goalies — AL, Tanner Nelson (W; 24 saves); LRDS, Xander Carter-Kleven (L; 20 saves). Power-play opportunities — AL, none; LRDS, 0-for-1. Penalties — AL, 1-2 minutes; LRDS, none.

NEW PRAGUE 3, NORTHFIELD 2, OT

Power plays were few and far between in the day’s first section semifinal game, so when New Prague got one in overtime, it didn’t waste it.

Charlie Turnberg scored 2:57 into the extra period to complete a comeback from two goals down and eliminate top-seeded Northfield from the Section 1A playoffs.

The fourth-seeded Trojans chose the dramatic path to the section final, getting a goal from Michael Beckius with just 2:03 to play in regulation that tied the score 2-2.

Northfield (20-6-1) had jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of Spencer Klotz goals — his 33rd and 34th of a terrific season — in the second period.

That’s how the score remained until Willy Seymour snapped a shot past Northfield goalie Keaton Walock with 6:09 to go in the third period. That made the score 2-1 and set the stage for Beckius and Turnberg to lift the Trojans (10-15-2) into Wednesday’s section title game.

NEW PRAGUE 3, NORTHFIELD 2, OT

New Prague 0-0-2-1 — 3

Northfield 0-2-0-0 — 2

First period — no scoring. Second period — 1. NFLD, Spencer Klotz 33 (Kamden Kaiser 22, Ty Frank 24) 2:47 (pp). 2. NFLD, Klotz 34 (Frank 25) 11:05. Third period — 3. NP, Willy Seymour 10 (Luke Portner 12) 10:51. 4. NP, Michael Beckius 4 (Owen Wilkins 7) 14:57. Overtime — Charlie Turnberg (unassisted) 2:57 (pp).

Shots on goal — NP 10-5-9-5—29; NFLD 14-14-7-1—36. Goalies — NP, Carter Puente (W; 34 saves); NFLD, Keaton Walock (L; 26 saves). Power-play opportunities — NP, 1-for-2; NFLD, 1-for-1. Penalties — NP, 1-2 minutes; NFLD, 2-4 minutes.

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