Shane Donovan has been Northern Lakes’ leader all season.
The senior ended his regular season with a hat trick in a 6-3 win over Sauk Rapids.
“It was a section game and we knew it could affect where we ended up in the section playoffs,” Donovan said. “So we wanted to come in and have confidence.”
Donovan and the rest of his teammates went into the season finale with a chip on their shoulders having lost to Sauk Rapids earlier in the season.
His first goal came toward the end of the first period to give Northern Lakes an early 1-0 lead. He scored his second and third goals three minutes apart to start the third period to give the Lightning a 5-2 lead.
He credited his hat trick to “puck luck” and thought his linemates helped get the puck in the right positions.
“The night before in practice, we changed a few things up in the offensive zone,” Donovan said. “We were just flying around out there and it was working the whole game. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the line.”
For Northern Lakes head coach Craig Larson it was nice to see Donovan get points again.
“The two games before he hadn’t gotten any points,” Larson said. “A lot of it for him was getting back in the flow of the game and being able to create things. He had to be a little more creative and find the open pockets of ice.”
At the end of the regular season, Donovan posted a team-high 65 points with 29 goals and 36 assists. Last season, he led the team with 20 goals and 21 assists.
“He’s got a very quick release on his shot,” Larson said. “It’s very tough to track for goalies. He’s very low to the ice and he is shifty. We haven’t seen a skater like him in a while.”
Donovan said his speed makes him hard to defend in the offensive zone. He loses opponents easily because he has the ability to blow past them.
“I’m a strong skater,” Donovan said. “Speed is the name of the game right now. In hockey, when you have speed you can beat people wide and you just have a lot more opportunity. You are kind of on the next level there.”
Early in his career, Donovan battled through injuries to get to where he is now. Larson said his teammates notice his dedication to the game.
“That’s what makes a good leader,” Larson said. “He has the ability to take constructive criticism and he will tell you he doesn’t know it all. He is able to help other players who may be struggling with parts of their game.
“You can see his passion and how bad he wants it. He wants to not only be good individually, but also wants to carry success with the rest of our team.”
One of Donovan’s goals is to play Division I hockey. He commited to play for the Minnesota Magicians in a junior hockey team in the North American Hockey League.
“They have a great coaching staff and everything down there,” Donovan said of the Minnesota Magicians. “Over the summer, I have practiced with them. I played in a Minnesota-Elite league which is kinda the top players in Minnesota. Playing with those next level guys helps me out a lot.”
What Donovan remembers most about playing for Northern Lakes is his teammates.
“It’s been a big family since we met each other,” Donovan said. “Nothing is stronger than our team bond and that’s what I’ll miss the most.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Carsen Turk, Crosby-Ironton, scored 25 points against Eveleth-Gilbert.
Alex Gwost, Little Falls, scored 31 points against Zimmerman.
Travis Wenzel, Little Falls, scored 25 points against Zimmerman.
Bode Magnuson, Pequot Lakes, scored 31 points against Aitkin.
Mannie Ukutegbe, Aitkin, scored 20 points against Pequot Lakes.
Spencer Schaefer, Pillager, scored 21 points against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Ben Olander, Staples-Motley, scored 21 points against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
Isaiah Schultz, Staples-Motley, scored 27 points against Swanville.
Bereket Loer, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored 27 points against Osakis.
Nordic Skiing: Jackson Grant, Little Falls, earned all-state honors at the State Nordic skiing meet.
School: Crosby-Ironton (Northern Lakes)
Highlights: Scored a hat trick against Sauk Rapids.