Even a few days leading up to the Minnesota state tournament there was a growing feeling Moorhead could upset No. 3 Eagan.
What was a feeling became a result with Moorhead pulling off a 4-0 win and advancing to the state quarterfinal round where it will face Hill-Murray on Friday.
Moorhead had its fair share of players that stepped up against Eagan, which was favored to possibly win the state title game.
Here’s a look at the players who made the upset happen.
-Michael Bitzer, goaltender: Bitzer heard all week about Eagan’s three scorers with 50-plus points. How Eagan had four Division I commits and like the Honey Badger he didn’t care. Bitzer stopped 34 shots having what has so far been the performance of the tournament. Bitzer stopped breakway chances, slapshots, pucks right in front of the net for what was easily his best performance this season. Bitzer’s biggest save came when Eagan’s Nick Kuchera came in on a breakaway and Bitzer made the save with relative ease shifting momentum towards Moorhead. When Moorhead started scoring, Bitzer went from game-saver to hope-destroyer crippling any chances Eagan had of a comeback.
-Logan Ness, forward: Bitzer aside, Ness might be the Spuds’ most consistent performer this postseason. Ness had two goals and an assist adding to what’s been an outstanding playoffs for him. He opened the section playoffs with a five-goal performance over Monticello-Annandale-Maple Lake. Ness was scoreless in the 3-0 win over Roseau but scored the game-winner in the 3-1 section final over Brainerd. Teammate Bryant Christian said after the game Ness does things in practice everyone’s been waiting to see in a game. It appears he’s finally showing those skills.
-Bryant Christian, forward: Christian might be the silent hero for Moorhead in the win against Eagan. Christian won a game-high 16 faceoffs helping Moorhead edge Eagan 33-29 in draws. Christian’s wins helped Moorhead escape some scary situations and in other cases, get into some pretty nice ones too. Then there’s everything else he did. Christian had two assists and scored the fourth and final goal of the game.
-Terry Leabo, defenseman: Both Bitzer and Spuds coach Dave Morinville were adamant over the defensemen taking shots to help preserve the shutout. Leabo had the marks to prove it with bruises on his arms, legs and even neck. Leabo continues showing why USHL teams are showing interest in him as his junior hockey stock rises after every game.
-Jesse Doschadis, forward: Doschadis did what he always does: finding a way to get his team in a game. Doschadis had plenty of moments this year where he laid out a big hit to get this team going or how he’ll score a goal in the chances of making something happen. He did it again scoring the first goal, nee, the game-winning goal.