MASON CITY — Mohawk Hockey Club coach Nick von Fischer has talked time and time again about Parker Dondlinger being the best goaltender in the Midwest High School Hockey League.
Now, it’s time for the senior to prove it against a team that has had his number all season when the Mohawks (13-13-1-1) face the top-seeded Des Moines Capitals (27-0-0-1) in the quarterfinals of the MHSHL tournament at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena.
“Parker’s been the guy for us all year and he’s going to need to be huge for us,” von Fischer said. “He’s one of the guys that has helped get us this far by working hard. All of our guys have worked hard and we’ll have to be on shift by shift if we want to win. The Capitals are a great team and we have to prove that we won’t be out-worked against them.”
While von Fischer expects his team to play to his expectations, that also means easing the pressure on Dondlinger, who has recorded three shutouts and a .925 save percentage in 26 games this season with a goals against average of 2.64.
“We have to be tough in front of him,” von Fischer said. “We can’t allow 30, 40 shots on Parker. We have to do our job and get in front of their players, block some shots.”
It’s just one of the ways the Mohawks hope to slow down the league’s top offense as Des Moines has scored 163 goals this season.
The Capitals have the league’s top three scorers in Blake Ramsey, Joe Krueger and Jason Noga, who have combined for 239 points (97 goals, 142 assists).
Coach von Fischer knows his team will need to execute the game plan in order to slow down the trio.
“They’re impressive offensive numbers but I think if we can keep the puck in our offensive zone we can minimize their chances,” von Fischer said. “Our best defense is to keep the puck in their zone so they don’t get shots on goal.”
The Capitals have been able to get shots on goal against Dondlinger in four meeting this season as the goaltender has given up six goals, five goals, four goals and six goals against Des Moines this season.
However, with a spot in the tournament on the line after a 6-2 loss to the Capitals on Feb. 13, Dondlinger ended his season stopping 72-of-73 shots he faced in the final two games of the regular season.
With Dondlinger doing his part to keep the Mohawks in games, the offense has scored 67 goals in 28 games.
Skylar Watt leads the Mohawks with 33 points while Ethan McHenry isn’t far behind with 30 points. Eight other players have between six and 15 points for the Mohawks.
“It’s always good to see scoring from the second and third lines,” von Fischer said. “We have an experienced first line and experience plays a big role this time of the year.”