The Edina Holiday Classic began with two well played games as the Eden Prairie Eagles defeated the Elk River Elks 4-2 in the opener. The Edina Hornets fended off the challenge of a tough Grand Rapids Thuderhawk team to capture a 4-1 victory at Braeamar Arena
#8 Eden Prairie 4 Elk River 2
Taylor Wolfe scored his 5th and 6th goals of the season to help lift the Eagles past the Elk River Elks Thursday night in High School hockey action. Ben Jaremko opened the scoring for the Elks on a short handed effort that Ryan Jaremko set up off a turnover. As Ryan Jaremko made the read on an on rushing Eagle defenseman, he forced an errant pass and it landed on Jaremko's stick, who chipped the puck to Ben. With blazing speed, Ben Jaremko waltzed in on Eagle goalie Matt Halloran and beat him for the 1-0 lead at 7:21 of the first period.
The Elks, entered the game with three shutouts on the seaon and showed why they are such a formidable foe as they were solid defensively against an Eden Prairie team that averaged over 7 goals a game. Wolfe scored his first of two at 16:38 as Kyle Rau and Mitch Rogge set him up for the 1-1 tie.
Wolfe scored his second of the game at 6:55 of the second period to give the Eagles what would be a brief 2-1 lead. It evaporated just under four minutes later as Chad Hennum scored on a breakaway as he beat Halloran low to the stick side with a bullet. Hennum was all over the ice Thursday night and showed what speed can do. It burned the Eagles as did the first goal of the night and the worked to shore up the neutral zone chances for the Elks.
Kyle Rau scored at 4:14 of the game as he cut to the middle of the slot to his forehand and blasted a quick snap shot high over the glove of Elk River goalie Anders Franke for the 3-2 lead. It stayed that way until Kurt Rau scored on the empty net as he picked off a pass high in the Eden Prairie zone. Just as Franke had vacated the net, Rau's goal found the back with 1:09 left in the third period.
The well played game saw several big saves by both goalies as Halloran made 20 saves for the win to improve to 3-0 on the season. His counterpart Franke made 31 saves of which many were in tight.
The Eagles (5-0-0) battle the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks Friday night at Braemar Arena. Game time is 6:30 and it can be viewed on MyFoxHockey.com
#4 Edina 4 Grand Rapids 1
The Edina Hornets improved to 5-1 on the season with a hard earned 4-1 victory of the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks. The game entered the third period tied at 1 and it was the Hornets that scored three unanswered third period goals to secure the win on home ice.
The Holiday Classic is always a good barometer for the four teams involved. The Hawks entered the game off a 5-2 loss to the Moorhead Spuds. They did not allow the Hornets to control the chances off the end boards and stayed patient defensively.
Connor Gaarder opened the scoring for Edina at 3:54 of the first period as David Jarrett set him up. Early in the second period it was Austen Anderson who scored at the 1:00 mark to tie the game. Each team played a chess game throughout the zones and finally settled on a 1-1 tie after two periods.
The Hornets took the lead for good early in the third period as John Epple beat Grand Rapids goalie AJ Underwood off the left side of the goal for what would prove to be the game winner at 1:43. The Hornets never showed panic in the second period and stayed with their steady puck movement and crashed the net with their big bodies like they have made their trademark of recent years.
Brendan Baker scored a back door goal on the power play for the Hornets who were held to 1-7 with the man advantage. The Edina power play clicked on 23.5% of its chances and was ranked 49th in high school hockey entering the game. It was the penalty kill that the Thunderhawks put together as they killed just 79% off entering the game. They were effective in limiting the Hornet chances and it was Underwood who shut the door in goal when needed.
Charlie Taft rounded out the scoring as he beat Underwood after making a solid move to open up a shooting lane at 13:58 of the third period. Underwood was peppered with 37 shots on the game while John Ankeny made 17 saves in picking up his 4th win of the season for Edina.
The Thunderhawks face Eden Prairie in the early game of the Edina Holiday Classic (6:30) and the Hornets will be tested by Elk River in the night cap (8:30). All games will be aired by MyFoxHockey.com
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