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Eagles find hero in Halloran

By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor, 01/28/12, 7:00PM CST

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Eden Prairie senior scores in closing minute as Eagles stun No. 1-ranked Minnetonka


Eden Prairie senior Danny Halloran, front, scored the winning goal in the Eagles' 4-2 upset victory over Minnetonka. Photo by Helen Nelson

Danny Halloran spent the summer playing on Eden Prairie’s national championship American Legion baseball team as a backup catcher. 

“I don’t really get that much hockey in during the summer,” Halloran said.

It showed this fall. 

Halloran, a senior, wasn’t particularly impressive during tryouts for the Eagles’ hockey team. One of the last players to make the cut, Halloran was given no assurances of playing time by Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith, who did offer Halloran 24 hours to consider his options.

Halloran could start the season on the defending state Class 2A champions’ fourth line or he could satisfy his hockey fix by playing on Eden Prairie’s junior gold team.

“I started out on the fourth line, and I was kind of getting down on myself,” Halloran said. “But I just want to be a part of this team.” 


Eden Prairie's Michael DeCesare, right, carries the puck ahead of Minnetonka's Justin Bader. Photo by Helen Nelson

A practice warrior, Halloran approaches every drill as it might be his last. Same goes for each shift in every game.

“I’ve been waiting two years for this,” said Halloran, who spent last season on the Eagles’ junior varsity. “I didn’t really get a shot last year, and I couldn’t blame them because the guys ahead of me were great.

“This year I was hungry as heck. I just want to go out and prove it every shift I get.”

Don’t look now, but that baseball player and former fourth liner ranks third on the Eagles in goals with 10. 

Goal No. 10 is most certainly the crown jewel of the bunch, as it was the game winner and came in the final minute of Eden Prairie’s 4-2 upset over No. 1-ranked Minnetonka on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Eden Prairie Community Center.

“Not lately,” Halloran said when asked if he had scored a bigger goal. “That was one of my favorites, right there.”

With the score tied at 2 and overtime all but a certainty, Halloran found an opening in front of the Minnetonka goal, took a pass from Andrew Knudsen and unloaded a quick shot into the goal.

Just like that, the Eagles led 3-2 with just 43 seconds remaining. Eden Prairie’s bench exploded in cheers, players spilling onto the ice to congratulate the kid they call Hal.

“I love Hal,” sophomore defenseman Hunter Warner said. “He works his (butt) off in practice. 

“I love to see him accomplish good things, because in practice he’s the one encouraging people and making you work harder.”

Halloran’s no-quite attitude has taken him from the fourth to third to second line. He has 10 goals in 15 games, and only Steve Spinner with 15 and Andrew Knudsen with 14 have more. 

“He’s slowly climbing the scoring chart for us,” Smith said about Halloran, who has scored 12 of his 13 points in the Eagles’ last nine games. “And it’s all because of his hard work.”


Eden Prairie celebrates a goal during its 4-2 victory over No. 1-ranked Minnetonka. Photo by Helen Nelson

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap

Senior Danny Halloran scored the winning goal with 43 seconds left to boost No. 9-ranked Eden Prairie to 4-2 upset over No. 1 Minnetonka on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Eden Prairie Community Center.

Halloran, who spent all of last season on the Eagles’ junior varsity, took a pass from the Andrew Knudsen along the end boards and quickly fired a shot past Minnetonka goaltender Matt Behounek. 

Halloran’s goal broke a 2-2 tie and sparked mayhem on the Eagles’ bench and in the Eden Prairie cheering section. Eden Prairie’s Steve Spinner added an empty-net goal with 25 second remaining.

Minnetonka had tied the score at 2 with 7:16 remaining on a power-play goal by senior Sam Rothstein. With the Skippers (17-3-0) enjoying a 5-on-3 man advantage, Rothstein took a pass through the crease from Erik Baskin and popped the puck into the net.

Minnetonka applied heavy pressure on the Eden Prairie defense and goaltender Derrick LaCombe throughout the closing minutes before a turnover near the Skippers’ blue line allowed the Eagles (13-4-1) to set up for Halloran’s winning goal.

LaCombe, a sophomore, turned in another solid performance against a highly ranked opponent. He made 28 saves in an effort that was reminiscent to his play in Eden Prairie’s upset win over Eagan earlier in the season.

Behounek finished with 17 saves for Minnetonka, which was coming off dominating victories over No. 2 Duluth East and No. 8 Wayzata. 

After a scoreless first period, Eden Prairie’s Knudsen and Minnetonka's Max Coatta exchanged power-play goals in the second.

A senior in his first season on the Eagles’ varsity, Halloran has been climbing the team’s scoring charts the past several weeks. He engineered a hit single against the Skippers, scoring the winning goal with 45 seconds left on a quick and accurate shot.
 
Kundsen, a junior, did the grunt work on Halloran’s winning goal, digging the puck out of the boards behind he Minnetonka net before firing a perfectly placed pass. He also scored the Eagles’ first goal and assisted on two more for a four-point night.
 
The senior forward scored to tie the game at 2 with 7:16 remaining and had an assist on the Skippers’ other goal. He was his usual playmaking, hustling self, creating scoring opportunities at one end and breaking them up at the other.

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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