MANKATO — A late scoring barrage lifted the Owatonna boys hockey team to a 6-2 victory over Mankato East and officially kept the door open, albeit by a tiny sliver, for the Huskies to share of the Big Nine Conference championship.
The victory caps a wildly successful conference slate for OHS that included a 13-2 record against Big Nine opponents and a spirited three-month back-and-forth tussle with Rochester Century for league supremacy.
The Huskies cap the season with 40 points in the conference standings and, at least temporarily, elevates them into a first place tie with the Panthers. Century, though, has one game remaining on Thursday at Winona and can secure the outright conference title with a win or a tie.
On Tuesday, Casey Johnson recorded his first career hat trick and third multi-goal game of the season. All three of his goals came in consecutive fashion during a nine-minute stretch in the third period that extended Owatonna’s lead from a single goal to the final 6-2 edge.
The Cougars (11-13, 7-6) scored first at the 5:49-mark of the opening period before Dom Valento rang the bell on a power play roughly five minutes later. After the teams traded goals in the second, Wyatt Oldefendt registered the game-winning goal just 36 seconds into the third on an assist from Valento.
The Huskies, who will cap the regular season with at home against Hastings on Saturday, finished with a considerable 45-11 advantage in shots-on-goal and ended 2-for-7 on the power play.
Owatonna 6, Mankato East 2
ME—Layten Liffrig (Brett Borchart), 5:49
O—Dom Valento (Zach Kubicek, Taylor Bogen), 10:08, PP
O—Valento (Collin Pederson, Grant Achterkirch), 5:55
ME—Liffrig (Parker Anthony), 11:50
O—Wyatt Oldefendt (Valento), 0:36
O—Johnson (Tanner Stendel, Joey Dub), 2:14
O—Johnson (Kubicek), 9:38, PP
Owatonna goalie: Zach Wiese (9 saves)