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In the right place at the right time

By Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff, 01/23/12, 8:45PM CST

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Opportunistic play from Danny Halloran leads No. 9-ranked Eden Prairie past Lakeville South

A common saying for sports teams and players is ‘it’s better to be lucky than good.’ 

Eden Prairie senior Danny Halloran showed that the two can work in tandem in the Eagles’ 5-3 victory over Lakeville South on Tuesday Jan. 24 at the Hasse Ice Arena in Lakeville. 

Halloran scored two goals, each highlighting his knack for being in the perfect spot on the ice. 

In the first period, he scored when line mate Andrew MacLeod put a shot on net that trickled past Lakeville South’s goaltender Hunter Ziniel. Halloran happened to be right behind Ziniel and found a home for the puck in the back of the net.

“It squeaked by a little bit and it was sitting on the goal line,” Halloran said. “I just went up and slapped it. The goalie didn’t really know where it was.”

In the second period, Halloran netted the game-winner when he buried a fabulous feed from teammate Chad Dahlquist. The pass found Halloran on the other side of the crease from Dahlquist, who was wide open and ready to snap a one-timer into the twine.

“He was really good tonight,” Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said. “He’s one of those guys that just keeps getting better.

“As the hockey season goes on he gets better and better because he’s so smart, he’s got great instincts, he’s got a good release. He finds openings, and his teammates get it to him.”

Time and time again, Halloran was one step ahead of the play throughout the game and seemed to be in a great spot to capitalize. It may look like luck, but Halloran said that his flair for positioning was his biggest strength and the best attribute that he brings to the team. 

“Knowing where to go, a hockey sense kind of thing,” Halloran said. “My grandpa taught me how to play... He taught me how to play since I was young and I learned where to go from him.”

Halloran’s grandfather is none other than Lorne Grosso, the legendary coach of Rochester Mayo. Grosso has 635 wins over his career, and is in his 44th season as a head coach. He has the most wins in Minnesota high school hockey history, and seven trips to the state tournament.

Talk about getting a head start on the competition.

Second on the team with nine goals, Halloran has only twelve points on the season, proving that he enjoys scoring more than dishing out assists.

“I think the guys just like to find me. I find an opening and hope they get it to me,” he said.

Gerdes stands tall

Hockey Day Minnesota didn’t go exactly as planned for Eden Prairie.

They lost 4-0 to Wayzata, a disappointing performance that coach Lee Smith and the team weren’t too happy about.  

For sophomore goaltender Jake Gerdes, the loss gave him an opportunity to put the team on his back and come up with a 5-3 win over Lakeville South.

Though the goalies are generally on a rotation, coach Smith tends to go with sophomore Derrick LaCombe for more important games, leaving Gerdes as a backup.  After the loss to Wayzata, Lee decided to turn to Gerdes to switch things up.

That meant on Tuesday, Gerdes got the start. He played a wonderful game, making 22 saves and holding both Justin Kloos and the Cougars scoreless in the third period.

“Tonight was a great night by Jake for us,” Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said. “He really felt comfortable and he had a great third period for us.”

Earlier in the game, Gerdes fell victim to two goals by Kloos, a monster forward who averages 3.25 points per game.

Not to be fazed, Gerdes made the biggest save of the game on the Gopher commit, robbing him of a goal late in the third period. Kloos brought the puck into the slot and Gerdes had to make an adjustment before flipping out a glove and snagging a bullet that had ‘top-shelf’ written all over it.

The crowd let out a giant yell of excitement before exhaling with a loud yelp of frustration after realizing what had happened.

“He’s a great player so you just always gotta know where he is on the ice,” Gerdes said.  “I saw him back door and I knew the pass was going to go to him so I tried to make a move over there. It worked out great.”

Gerdes is 5-0-1 on the year and sports and averages 3.41 goals against per game.

“I think the guys feel comfortable with him,” Smith said. “He’s a good leader in the locker room. He does a good job of staying up and making saves and he made some big saves there and didn’t get rattled.”

Statistics, Summary

Halloran scored two key goals for the Eagles in their victory. The game was only his second two-goal game of the year, moving him into fifth on Eden Prairie in scoring with 12 points (9 goals, 3 assists). 
 
The dynamic forward scored twice in the second period to haul the Cougars back into the game. Showing off for Minnesota coach Don Lucia who was in attendance, Kloos pushed his point totals to a team-leading 52 (24 goals, 28 assists). Kloos is currently  tied for fifth in the state in points.
 
Bouncing back from a lost to Wayzata was placed on Gerdes shoulders, and he performed beautifully. He made 22 saves and held the Cougars scoreless in the third period. Although he got beat twice by Justin Kloos (who can blame him?) he managed to stop him on a few key shots in the third with the game on the line.

Game Recap

Eden Prairie got back on track Tuesday Jan. 24 with a 5-3 win over Lakeville South at the Hasse Arena in Lakeville.

The Eagles (12-4-1) knocked off the Cougars (9-7-0) with strong efforts by backup goaltender Jake Gerdes and forward Danny Halloran.

Halloran, a senior, scored twice, including the game-winner late in the second period. He was the beneficiary of a beautiful cross-ice pass from Chad Dahlquist, which Halloran slapped in.

Luc Snuggerud opened up the scoring for Eden Prairie, and the Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Halloran knocked in his first goal of the game. 

The Cougars bounced back before the frame ended when Shane Hill redirected a shot beautifully to beat Jake Gerdes glove-side.

The second period belonged to Justin Kloos. Just ten seconds in, Kloos burst into the middle of the ice and beat Gerdes low to ignite the crowd and tie the game at two. Next, just a few minutes later, he found net on a power play goal. He crashed the net and poked in the score amid a flurry of bodies.

Steve Spinner answered for Eden Prairie in the second when he teed up a massive slap shot that bounced in and out of the net like a tennis ball hitting a wall.

Eden Prairie fought off the rest of the Cougar’s attacks and scored an empty netter with 22 seconds to play. 

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Micah Miller leaps to the fans after scoring the game winner.

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Moorhead's Jack Stetz (21) throws his arms up as he and his teammates celebrated the win. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com