Beau Altman's fifth-straight shutout vaults Andover to Section 7AA final
The senior goaltender stopped all 27 shots by Grand Rapids in a 5-0 win.
DULUTH — To suggest that Andover goaltender Beau Altman is peaking at the right time might not be fully appreciating the starting netminder’s dominant late-season stretch.
The senior extended his shutout streak to five games in Saturday’s Section 7AA semifinal with 27 saves in a 5-0 blanking of No. 3 seed Grand Rapids at Amsoil Arena.
Altman, who has turned aside 85 straight shots over the five-game stretch, says he’s taken the advice of last year’s starting goaltender and Frank Brimsek Award finalist, Austin Brauns, to heart.
“He’s big on playing simple and that’s kind of what our goalie coach is all about too is just play simple, play your game,” Altman said. “Never (get) too high, never too low so I feel like that’s worked really well this year.”
Andover head coach Mark Manney pointed to Altman’s competitive fire as one of the biggest keys to his success.
“He’s not a flashy goalie. He’s at his best when he’s competing hard, like he develops an attitude that he’s not going to get scored on and doesn’t worry about technique,” Manney said. “Some goalies, when they get in the game, they focus on their technique to save them and that’s not him. He just competes and that’s kind of his secret.”
Grand Rapids featured a strong performance in net as well through the work of Myles Gunderson, who stopped 30 of the Huskies’ 35 shots in an especially busy final two periods.
Head coach Wade Chiodo tipped his cap to not only Gunderson, but the entire senior group, as the team finishes the season with an overall record of 13-13-1.
“He’s been a rock for us for a few years. I have a ton of respect for that kid,” Chiodo said of Gunderson. ”He’s a team guy and it’s hard to see those types of players move on to the next phase of their life (but) you know what, I'm proud of him. All of those seniors as a matter of fact. They’ve all been great kids.”
After a scoreless opening frame in which the Huskies were held without a shot for the first nine minutes, the club’s top line of Cayden Casey, Cooper Conway and Gavyn Thoreson made its presence felt early in the second period and for the remainder of the contest.
Casey opened the scoring merely 16 seconds into the middle period after taking a Gavyn Thoreson pass through the neutral zone and straight to the net where he wired a wrist shot high-blocker side.
The dynamic trio went on to combine for eight points in the contest as Conway found the back of the net twice on the man advantage, including a back-breaker in the third period to make it a 3-0 game. Thoreson added a tally of his own at even strength in the second period.
“I think at the end of the day they all bring unique skills to it, but most importantly they like each other and they want to play for each other,” Manney said of the three.
The line is the first to include two Mr. Hockey finalists since the 2019 state champions of Edina, which featured Mason Nevers, Jett Jungels and Liam Malmquist.
Though he was not recognized as a finalist, Manney said Casey is the straw that stirs the drink for the top unit.
“To be honest I’m disappointed we don’t have three (finalists),” Manney said. “I think Cayden Casey is one of the three best forwards in the state, and if I were to hold a draft picking a team he would be my first choice. He’s a 200-foot player who works hard in all zones and doesn’t have one lick of ego when it comes to points and he makes the other two guys better.”
The Huskies scored their sixth and final goal late in the third period when KJ Sauer lit the lamp on the team’s second power play unit with Brooks Cogswell and Anthony Pardo earning assists.
Andover (20-6-1) will take on top-seed Duluth East in the Section 7AA final, Thursday, March 2, at Amsoil Arena.
Grand Rapids 0-0-0 —0
Andover 0-2-3 —5
First period — None.
Second period — 1. Andover, Cayden Casey, 0:16 (Gavyn Thoreson); 2. Andover, Cooper Conway, 4:44 (Cayden Casey, Tristen May-Robinson), PP.
Third period — 3. Andover, Conway, 8:38 (Thoreson, May-Robinson), PP; 4. Andover, Thoreson, 10:21 (Conway); 5. Andover, KJ Sauer, 13:32 (Brooks Cogswell, Anthony Pardo), PP.
Saves — Beau Altman, Andover, 27; Myles Gunderson, GR, 30.