The Edina Holiday Classic is upon us and the same four teams that have graced the presence of Braemar Arena (Eden Prairie, Edina, Elk River, and Grand Rapids) will once again play in a round robin format that will give high school hockey fans a chance to watch some interesting games. One thing will be certain, no two games will look the same this weekend.
The round-robin play is a little different this season as the schedule will consist of two games on day one with Eden Prairie taking on Elk River at 6:30. Grand Rapids and Edina will play at 8:30. Friday will feature Elk River and Edina at 8:30.
Game one on Saturday will be Elk River and Grand Rapids at 6:30 while game two is the much anticipated cross town rivalry featuring Edina and Eden Prairie at 8:30. Each season, the environment is spectacular and to be in the house is to experience something special. The two teams will play again on January 16th at the EP Community Center, leaving plenty of drama to unfold. All games will be webcast on MyFoxHockey.com including the EP Edina rematch in January.
Eden Prairie (4-0-0) vs Elk River (5-1-0)
Both teams are off to a sterling start as the Elks have suffered just one loss this year at the hands of the Blaine Bengals by a score of 3-1. Juniors Levi Lutz (4g-5a-9pts) and Chad Hennum (2g-7a-9pts), lead the way for the Elks. Sophomore defenseman Ryan Jaremko (1g-5a-6pts) is a steady distributor for head coach Tony Sarsland’s Elks who are 4-1 in the Northwest Suburban Conference. They return 12 players from last years 8-18-0 team and are poised to be a contender in the Northwest Suburban Conference. They have made four trips (01 champs, 02, 04, and 05) this decade. The Elks have been in some fierce defensive battles this year as they have scored three goals or less in three of the five victories to date. Goalie Chris Dahn is 2-0 with two shutouts and Anders Franke is 3-1 with a shutout as well. Playing it close to the vest is a position the Elks are comfortable. Their first of three tests will come tonight.
The Eagles have been High School’s version of Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers as they have scored a ton of goals. Heading into the opener with Elk River tonight, the Eagles are averaging over 7 goals a game. Nine players have tallied 5 points or more on the season and are led by a mix of underclassmen and seniors. Mike Erickson leads the way (4g-5a-9pts) as the speedy Matson Gravelle (2g-5a-7pts), balanced Joe McQuillan (3g-3a-6pts), tough Taylor Wolfe (4g-2a-6pts), and skilled Kyle Rau (2g-4a-6pts) make up a well rounded offensive group for the Eagles. The entire offensive and defensive flow runs through big time defenseman Nick Leddy (2g-5a-7pts) who gets better every time he laces up the skates. He has help on the back line with Dan Molenaar (2g-5a-7pts) who, at 5-11 is a solid compliment. The Eagles have won by an average margin of 4 goals, all against Lake Conference foes. Will the defensive play of the Elks clip the wings of the Eagles? How about the offensive machine of the Hornets, is an 8-7 game possible? Log onto MyFoxHockey.com to find out as Pete Waggoner and Bart Archer will have all the action for you.
Grand Rapids (2-3-1) vs Edina (4-1)
Bruce Laroque and his Grand Rapids Thunderhawks are off to a 2-3 start this season as they continue to grow and build their team. Defenseman Sam Rendle (2g-7a-9pts) is an exceptional player who moves the puck as well as any in the State. John Skrbec (4g-2a-6pts) and Merritt Austin (4g-2a-6pts) lead the way for the club offensively. The Thunderhawks have played solid hockey in a 4-3 loss to Stillwater. They tied CEC 4-4 to open the season and have picked up wins against Greenway and Forest Lake. They will be well coached and disciplined in all three zones. Goalie AJ Underwood has carried the load having appeared in five of the six Rapids games to date. He has a 2-2-1 record and a 2.91 goals against average.
The Edina Hornets could be the physically strongest team in High School hockey as they play a mature game. The big bodies of Anders Lee (4g-8a-12pts), Connor Gaarder (4g-7a-11pts), and Marshall Everson (6g-3a-9pts) lead the way for a group of players that know how to use their bodies and positioning to their advantage. They can skate as well as any team. Junior Blake Chapman (3g) is settling in nicely in is second season, his first full at the Varsity level. . Their defensemen are solid as five of six return from last season’s State runner up team. They have had their way in their four wins but were stung by the Hill Murray Pioneers. With three different types of games before them the Hornets will have a chance to display to the MyFoxHockey.com crowd that they really are capable of playing any way they want.