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Confidence booster

By Justin Magill, MN Hockey Hub staff, 02/16/12, 12:40PM CST

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Wayzata upends No. 5-ranked Edina in Lake Conference showdown

Trying to snap a three-game losing streak is a hard enough task as is.

Add that to the pressure of attempting to gain some momentum for the section playoffs and, of course, breaking the skid against teams in the Lake Conference.

If No. 9-ranked Wayzata was going to gain some confidence heading into the postseason, the Trojans received a large dose against No. 5 Edina, taking down the Hornets 3-2 on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Plymouth Ice Center.

"This is a big win for us because it gives us a lot of confidence that we need to have going into sections," Trojans forward Sam Majka said. "We've been close the last few games, but couldn't pull one out."

Close but not enough has been the story for the Trojans in their most recent games.

When the opportunity has been there to grasp a big win, a launching pad to the postseason, it has escaped Wayzata, sometimes even in heartbreaking fashion.

It lost to No. 7 Benilde-St. Margaret's 4-3 on Feb. 6 and held a lead over No. 2 Minnetonka, only to fall 4-3 in overtime on Feb. 11.

Against the Hornets, something good finally came out of a tightly contested battle with a top-ranked team.

"It was good to finally win a close game," Trojans coach Pat O'Leary said. "We've been in some tight ones lately, and there is only so many times you can tell your players that we can learn from this.

"You can learn from losses by correcting mistakes, but you learn a lot more by winning and what it takes to do that, so that is why this was such a big win for us."

Less than three weeks ago, the Trojans lost suffered a 5-2 loss to Edina. In the rematch they limited a potent Hornets offense to just 19 shots on goal.

"We tightened up a lot on defense," Trojans forward Kenzie Vold said. "We were so much better in our zone, blocking shots, clearing the puck and taking the body.

"It was all better than what we did the first time."

Wayzata's play was so impressive, it even got the attention of Edina coach Curt Giles.

"That is not a team you want to run into at sections," he said. "They are a very good hockey team that can be dangerous and make a real big run in the postseason.

"They have some talented players over there that can play with anybody."

For a majority of the night, Giles saw first-hand what that team was like.

At one point in the second period, the Trojans held an 18-8 shot advantage and kept pouring it on Edina.

The nonstop pressure led to two goals, which gave the Trojans a 3-1 advantage going into the third.

"I though we kind of played ourselves out of the game in the second, but you have to give credit to Wayzata, because they were that good," Giles said. "They took it to us pretty good there."

Blake Hallenberg and Vold scored for the Trojans in the second, which gave them an important two-goal lead heading into the third.

"Those two goals were huge for us," Majka said. "You eventually saw how important they were, but it gave us a lot of confidence because we were playing really good and we got something out of it."

Late in the third, it was looking like the Trojans were going to need both of those second-period goals just to reach an overtime period with the Hornets.

Tyler Nanne pulled Edina within one when he grabbed a loose puck at the Hornets' blue line and go in alone on Wayzata goalie Alec Almquist, where he made a quick move to his left to score.

With less than a minute remaining and down a goal, the Hornets pulled Willie Benjamin in favor of an extra skater and nearly tied the game when an Andy Jordah shot sailed just wide.

"Couldn't have asked for a better chance than that," Giles said. "Overall, it was a great play just to get in a position like that."

"Naturally, you hold your breath in the last two minutes of a game like that because you want to see your boys be successful," O'Leary said. "I was just happy for our team because we were able to see something positive from a good game that we played."

Wayzata's win snaps a three-game losing streak, but more importantly, gives it a marque win near the end of the regular season, which it can carry on into the postseason.

Losses to Benilde-St. Margaret's, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka will not be on the back of the Trojans' minds anymore.

Instead, a more positive thought process will take precedent.

"We proved that we can play with some of the best teams," Majka said. "There were some close games, but we got a big win tonight against a good team and that is something that we can really carry with us now."

Home Sweet Home

Edina has made it to the state tournament for five consecutive seasons, which included a title in 2010 and a finals appearance in 2009 as well.

With the success it has had in recent years, one venue has been the Hornets achilles heal and it was once again, the Plymouth Ice Center on Thursday, Feb. 16.

The last time Edina won in Plymouth over the Trojans dates back to Jan. 22, 2009, which was actually the second time the Hornets beat Wayzata on the road that year.

"I think we have a big advantage playing here on the Olympic sheet," Trojans forward Sam Majka said. "We are very comfortable here and have the team built to play on this rink."

"When you practice on this rink everyday, you are more used to it than other teams are," Kenzie Vold added. "It helps us out playing here, especially against a great team like Edina, where you know you are going to get a good game."

Wayzata now has a five-game home winning streak over the Hornets in Plymouth, which is an impressive record to hold on a team that has been at least to the state tournament semifinals the past three seasons.

If the large sheet is not a big enough advantage for the Trojans, Majka and Vold said the home crowd can play a factor as well.

"We have the "Flow Squad" here, too," Majka said. "They make the game pretty exciting and they get up for these big games, which gets us pretty pumped up."

The "Flow Squad" will be the first to serenade an opposing goalie with a chorus similar to what is hear at a University of Minnesota men's hockey game after a goal and are the first to inform the road team how they are not welcomed with open arms when they step onto the ice.

"They are great," Vold said. "They get into the game and we feed off of that."

With the home schedule complete for the Trojans, they finished with an impressive 8-2-1 record at the Plymouth Ice Center, only dropping games to Benilde-St. Margaret's and Minnetonka by identical 4-3 scores and it tied Maple Grove 3-3 to begin the season.

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap

Kenzie Vold's power play goal in the second period proved to be the game-winner in No. 9 Wayzata's 3-2 win over No. 5 Edina on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Plymouth Ice Center.

It was a productive night for the senior forward, who also assisted on linemate Sam Majka's goal in the first period.

Majka opened the scoring in the first period when he banged in a rebound near the bottom of the left circle to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead.

Later in the first, Edina's Parker Reno ripped a hard wrist shot in the upper shelf to tie the game at one.

Wayzata owned second period, when it scored twice to take a 3-1 lead into the third.

Blake Hallenberg put Wayzata up 2-1 when he scored on a rebound in front of the net, sending the Trojans' student section into a frenzy.

Vold scored on a deflection in front to extend the lead to two.

Edina pulled within one when Tyler Nanne pounced on a loose puck and beat Wayzata defenseman Matt Halverson, who initially went after the loose puck but ended up trying to retreat.

Halverson could not catch Nanne, who was able to make a quick move to his left to beat Trojans' goale Alec Almquist.

In the closing seconds of the third Edina had a golden chance to tie the game, but Andy Jordahl just missed the net.

Almquist stopped 17 shots for the Trojans, while his counterpart, Willie Benjamin, was a bit more busy, stopping 24 of 27 shots on goal.

Wayzata improves to 14-9-1 (3-4-0 Lake Conference) and will visit Hopkins in its regular season finale.

The loss drops Edina to 19-5-0 (5-2-0 Lake Conference). The Hornets will take on No. 6 Eden Prairie with a chance to at least tie No. 2 Minnetonka for the conference title.

1. Kenzie Vold, Wayzata
His two-point effort included the game-winning goal in the second period. Vold assisted on Sam Majka's first-period goal to get Wayzata on the board first and set the tone for the rest of the game. On top of centering the first line, Vold was a factor in special teams play where he is on the top power-play unit and was one of the reasons why Edina had trouble getting pucks to the net on its man-advantage situations. Vold was the only player to record more than one point.

2. Sam Majka, Wayzata
After Edina had a strong first few minutes, Majka turned the momentum with a rebound goal to give Wayzata an early 1-0 lead. He used his speed and overall intelligence with the puck to impact the game on a positive note for the Trojans.

3. Willie Benjamin, Edina
Of the 27 shots he faced, a majority were high quality as Wayzata was buzzing for most of the game. Two goals got past him off rebounds and the other was a tip-in on the way to the net. Benjamin has established himself as one of the stronger goalies in the Lake Conference and he did not disappoint, even in a loss.

Conference Standings

Statistical Leaders

How They've Fared

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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