Class 2A boys hockey semifinals: Minnetonka beats Andover to set up Lake Conference final

It will be a Lake Conference battle for the Class 2A boys hockey championship.

Minnetonka earned its spot in high school hockey’s biggest game by defeating defending champion Andover 4-1 in a semifinal Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Gavin Garry scored twice, Henry Burrows and Sam Scheetz each had a goal and Kaizer Nelson made 17 saves for the top-seeded Skippers, who will take a 19-game winning streak into Saturday’s game with Edina.

Two of those were against the Hornets: 4-0 on January 19 and 1-0 on February 11.

“The biggest thing is just playing our game. We proved we can beat them. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Garry said.

One story going into the semifinal was Minnetonka’s depth versus Andover’s top line: the trio of Mr. Hockey finalists in Gavyn Thoreson, Cayden Casey and Austin Westman, who scored 105 goals and recorded 148 assists . Each has at least 75 points; no other Huskies player has more than 28.

But the chances were too much for fourth-seeded Andover (22-7-1), held to 18 shots on goal; nine to two periods. Andover had scored at least five goals in five straight games and six of seven.

Largely held in check over two periods, Thoreson, a St. Cloud State, converted a perfect pass from Casey to score his 39th goal of the season at 4:49 of the third period, bringing the Huskies within one.

“I think that goal had a chance to wake us up and then we got a power play or a chance to tie it right, then we took a selfish penalty in the stupid offensive zone and it took us right out of it. So we killed any momentum we might have had,” Andover coach Mark Manney said.

Garry’s second of the night showcased the passing of a well-tuned offense.

From the left half wall, Burrows sent a pass to Javon Moore in the right circle. His quick pass went to Garry alone, just outside the blue paint, for a quick puck layup and a 3-1 cushion.

Scheetz scored into an empty net.

Burrows gave the Skippers a 1-0 lead late in the first period, knocking home a rebound off a John Stout shot. Garry scored early almost 4 minutes into the second half, redirecting a long shot off the wrist of Daniel Pasqua.

Down by two in the waning seconds of the middle frame, Nelson held his straight back firmly on the post to stop the onrushing Ben Doll.

Andover goalie Beau Altman finished with 30 saves, including back-to-back key third-period stops during 4-on-4 action.

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