Thursday, March 08, 2007

Rochester Century 6 Hill-Murray 5 (OT)

When Joe Faupel walked out of the Rochester Century locker room and onto the Xcel Energy Center Ice prior to Century’s quarterfinal game against Hill-Murray, few people outside of the city of Rochester knew his name. After the game, Faupel’s name was on the lips of nearly all of the 15,693 spectators at the Xcel Center, and it took Faupel 15 minutes, and three renditions of “Sweet Caroline,” Century’s favorite post-game victory song, from his teammates before he was able to return to the locker room due to the barrage of questions he received from print, radio, and television media.

Faupel scored his team’s final four goals and added an assist in Rochester Century’s(24-5) 6-5 overtime upset win over 3rd seeded Hill-Murray(23-5-1). Century became the first team to knock off a seeded team this year, in the first year that the MSHSL has seeded teams for the state tournament.

The Panthers jumped out to a surprising 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Colin Briscoe and Joe Knoepke, but Hill-Murray was able to even the score by the end of the first period, and scored twice more to take what looked like a commanding 4-2 lead.

“They didn’t go away. At 4-2, we needed to get that next goal and we didn’t. Maybe if we make it 5-2, they start to go away a little bit, or change their game plan”

15:36 of the second period, Faupel scored the first of his goals by tipping a shot from defenseman Bryan Frischmann past Hill-Murray goalie Joe Phillippi. Faupel then tied the game 1:25 into the third period when he was able to jam home a loose puck that had settled behind Phillippi during a scrum in front of the net.

With the game tied, Hill-Murray looked to score the winning goal when Dan Checka stuffed in his second goal of the game off a rebound with just under 5 minutes to play in the game. But 1:16 later, Faupel responded by finishing off a pretty passing play from linemates Joe Knoepke and Garrett Grimstad. That sent the game to overtime, where Knoepke found Faupel alone in front of the net with a pass that Faupel buried to win the game. Grimstad also assisted on the overtime winner to give him five assists for the game.

“Joe Knoepke and Garrett Grimstad are both seniors and both handle the puck extremely well. They see the ice better than most players do. They’re making some beautiful passes for [Faufel] to finish.”

For Faupel, the thrill of scoring an overtime goal in the state tournament was almost indescribable.

“I can’t even describe it. It’s a great feeling. I was there at the right time, got a nice pass, and put the puck in the back of the net. It’s definitely the number one moment [in my hockey career. State tournament, four goals, it just feels great.”

The elation of the victory will be short lived for the Panthers. A little over 24 hours after pulling off the major upset, they will have to pull off an even bigger upset to beat number two seeded Roseau, who has played in the state tournament a record 31 times, compared to just 2 appearances for the Panthers.

“There’s a lot of teams at the tourney with huge tradition, and our traditions have been made in the last 9 years. In a short time, these boys have built a tradition of their own, said Frutiger.

Beating Roseau would be even more improbable than the win over Hill-Murray, but Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner thought that Century had a chance.

“Roseau is going to be in for a game tomorrow, because Rochester has grit and they’ve got grind, and strong defense and if their goalie stays hot, they’ll give them a run.”