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'Pop Tart' is toast of Maple Grove

05/26/2011, 9:49am CDT
By Loren Nelson, Editor

Goaltender Nate Johnson helps Crimson hold off Wayzata, stay unbeaten


Wayzata's Ryan Biek, middle, finds an opening past Maple Grove defenseman Ross Gunderson, right, and looks to fire a shot on goaltender Nate Johnson. Photo by Helen Nelson

David Corazalla, Maple Grove’s sophomore scoring sensation, was talking about the high degree of difficulty involved in beating Crimson senior goaltender Nate Johnson during their one-on-one practice confrontations.

The way Corazalla computes it, he beats Johnson only about 25 percent of the time.


Sophomore David Corazalla scored four goals for Maple Grove in its Section 6 quarterfinal win over Wayzata. Photo by Helen Nelson

About then, Corazalla, without batting an eye, referred to Johnson as Pop Tart.

Huh?

“Pop Tart,” Corazalla said. “That’s his nickname.”

“Everybody calls me Pop Tart,” Johnson interjected.

With “Pop Tart” making save after save look routine and Corazalla scoring four goals, No. 6-ranked Maple Grove stayed unbeaten through 15 games by holding off Wayzata 10-8 on Thursday, May 26, at Maple Grove High School.

Johnson has played so well this season he is one of two finalists for the award given to the state’s top senior goaltender. The added notoriety leads to questions about a most unusual nickname.

“I was in the sixth grade,” Johnson began. "We were doing wall sits at hockey practice on a Sunday morning. During the wall sit, I pulled out a Pop Tart and started eating it.

“I’ve been called Pop Tart ever since.”

How Johnson came to have a breakfast pastry stuffed in his sweatpants is a story for another day.

For now, the big story is Maple Grove’s unbeaten record. No. 1-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret’s is the state’s only other unbeaten team.

“Sometimes you ride a wave, and we’re on one now,” Maple Grove coach Gig Willson said.


Maple Grove's Zach Gardner scoops the ball ahead of Wayzata's Max Wasscher. Photo by Helen Nelson

Corazalla, who scored 41 goals in 13 regular season games, has five more in the playoffs. He played mostly on the Crimson’s junior varsity last season.

Shane Wolden, a junior attackman who scored twice and had an assist against the Trojans, is another Maple Grove player having a breakout season. He started the spring on the junior varsity (he’s not even listed on the Crimson roster handed out at games) but has become a fixture on a forward line with Corazalla.

Maple Grove’s Dillon Martin, a senior who has been on the varsity since he was a freshman, in joined by senior Skylar Ellingson in leading an underrated defense.

The Crimson’s glue is Johnson, a lacrosse fanatic who is unflappable under fire.
 
“This is a kid who eats and sleeps lacrosse, he just loves the game,” Willson said. “He always has since he was a little boy. He’s stringing sticks, he’s buying decals, he’s designing team apparel, he’s watching it on TV. He just loves the game.

“You’ll can never find a better competitor than a kid who is just truly playing it with his heart all the time. That’s him, that’s Nate.”


Push comes to shove for Maple Grove's Shane Wolden, right, as he runs into the Wayzata tandem of Mitchell Spence, middle, and Andrew Kolb. Photo by Helen Nelson

Statistics, Summary

1. David Corazalla, Maple Grove
The sophomore attackman isn’t particularly big (he stands 5-foot-8, tops) but he is lightning fast with his feet and his stick. More importantly, he has a goal scorers’ knack, as evidenced by his four-goal performance against the Trojans and team-leading 41 regular-season goals in 13 games.

2. Nate Johnson, Maple Grove
The senior goaltender repeatedly denied Maple Grove’s shooters, most notably a barrage of attempts by Trojans’ sharpshooters Jameson Macgregor and Eric Fong.

3. Jameson Macgregor, Wayzata
The fleet-footed Macgregor is the very definition of “instant offense” when he enough room to turn on the afterburners. He scored twice and was involved in several Trojans’ near misses.

Photo Gallery

Game Recap

Sophomore David Corazalla scored four goals and juniors Shane Wolden and Jack Rice each had had two goals and an assist as No. 6-ranked Maple Grove remained one of just two unbeaten MSHSL boys teams with a 10-8 victory over Wayzata on Thursday, May 26, in the quarterfinals of the Section 6 playoffs at Maple Grove High School.

No. 3-seeded Maple Grove (15-0) plays No. 2 seed Minnetonka (11-3) on Tuesday, May 31, at Minnetonka High School in the section semifinals. The Skippers beat Champlin Park 17-4 in a quarterfinal matchup on Thursday.

Maple Grove never trailed against Wayzata (5-9), and led by as much as 8-3 early in the third quarter.

Wayzata junior Eric Fong scored the only goal of the fourth quarter, pulling the Trojans to within 10-8 with 4 minutes, 28 seconds remaining. Fong’s goal came with Wayzata enjoying a man advantage. The Trojans were unable to capitalize on two more man-up opportunities in the closing minutes.

Fong and senior Jameson Macgregor each scored twice for Wayzata, which had difficulty solving Maple Grove standout senior goaltender Nate Johnson.


Maple Grove's Nate Johnson is one of two finalists for the award given annually to the state's top senior goaltender. Photo by Helen Nelson

Statistical Leaders

Regular Season

Section 6 Playoffs

Regular Season

Section 6 Playoffs

How They've Fared

Regular Season

Section 6 Playoffs

Regular Season

Section 6 Playoffs

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