Minnetonka's Max Coatta, left, tries to break free from Eden Prairie's Hunter Warner. Photo by Helen Nelson
“Now we either tie for the conference or win it, and that’s huge for us,” senior defenseman Joe Schuldt said, referring to Edina’s 3-2 loss at Wayzata that allowed the Skippers to earn at least a tie with the Hornets for the title. “That was something we couldn’t even do when we went to state two years ago. So that’s really exciting.”
Perhaps earning the top seed in Section 6AA, generally regarded as the most difficult to navigate in the state, was the biggest cause for rejoicing?
“That is big,” Rothstein said about earn the top seed. “We get the last change and everything that goes with it. That’s pretty big for us.”
Minnetonka coach Brian Urick was pleased more by how the Skippers played than the bounty his team earned.
Minnetonka allowed 11 shots – including a mere two in the third period -- thanks to its suffocating defense.
“We just wanted to play well in both ends,” Urick said. “You can do all the good stuff, win conference titles, get the No. 1 seed (in the section), but if you are not playing well in both ends, you are not going to anywhere.”
Eden Prairie’s offense also was limited by injuries that knocked its top three scorers – Andrew Knudsen (hip), Mason Bergh (broken collarbone) and Steven Spinner (head) – out of the lineup. Two more Eden Prairie forwards, Brad Boldenow and Daniel Thayer, exited early with head injuries.
Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said in his 19 seasons he’s never had one of his teams impacted by injuries like the recent tidal wave that has hit the defending state Class 2A champion Eagles.
“Not even close, nothing like this,” Smith said. “We had one guy playing who played in the state championship game last year. So what do you expect?
“When you lose your top two centers, good luck against a team like that.”