To say that Becker/Big Lake (Minn.) High hockey goalie Alex Darsow had a big game on Saturday is an extreme understatement. Across a near-record-setting 81:14 of game time, Darsow set a state record for most saves in an overtime game, finishing a first-round Section 8AA playoff game with 102 saves.
That's right, in one game Darsow made more saves than the professional goalies in the state of Minnesota -- Jose Theodore and Nicklas Backstrom -- made in three games last week. Even more amazingly, despite Darsow's heroics, his team was still eliminated from the Section 8AA postseason, falling 4-3 in triple overtime to River Lakes (Minn.) High.
According to Minnesota Hockey Hub, the junior goalie's saves total was 38 more than the previous record mark of 66, set in 2008. Darsow's final saves line looked like the solution to a bizarre extended Sudoku puzzle. By period, the junior had 20, 26, 22 10, 21 and 3 stops. The game ended on a River Lakes goal from Mitch Ejnik after 5:14 of the third overtime.
"It looked effortless almost," River Lakes coach Jeff Melby told Minnesota Hockey Hub. "Our kids were going, 'What do we have to do to score?'"
What they had to do was beat a goalie who was in an almost unconscious zone of impenetrability. After allowing two first-period goals, Darsow shut out River Lakes in the second period and was on the verge of doing the same in the third period when a puck bounced off a teammates' skate with just 1:52 remaining, tying the game and sending the elimination match between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds into overtime.
"It went off his skate and right into the net," Darsow told the Hockey Hub. "He just looked at me and said ... well, you can imagine what he said."
The goal that ended the game was nearly as fluky. Ejnik's goal came off a loose puck near the crease, a situation that took advantage of Darsow being caught out of position by a pileup at the side of the net.
"It kind of came out front after [Darsow] got tangled up with some guys," Becker/Big Lakes coach Jon Samuelson told Minnesota Hockey Hub. "If he was in the net, I know he would have stopped it."
While Becker/Big Lakes has hardly been a dominant team this season, Darsow's breakout performance didn't come completely out of the blue. En route to the team's 3-20-1 regular-season record, the goalie routinely saw loads of shots against him in the game. Twice, he faced more than 60 shots in a single game.
Yet his coach said that despite Darsow's diminutive stature -- he is listed at 5-foot-8 but admitted to Minnesota Hockey Hub that he stands closer to 5-foot-4 -- the goalie has impressed all the team's opponents, even those which scored a load of goals against him.
"Every time we play someone, even though we lose, even though it might be eight or nine or 10 to zero, we always hear comments about Alex and how well he played," Samuelson. "You couldn't ask for a better kid, either.
"I ask myself every day what we would do without him."
For Darsow's part, the junior only wished he could have made one more save for the program's seniors.
"I've been on the team since the eighth grade, and we had lost so many times to (River Lakes) in the playoffs," Darsow told Hockey Hub. "I felt like I owed it to the seniors to give it my all."