Eden Prairie's John Sullivan, right, tried to control a bouncing puck as Grand Rapids defenseman Curtis Simonson (17) provides support for Thunderhawks goaltender Hunter Shepard. Photo by Loren Nelson
With a two goal lead late in the third period it appeared Eden Prairie was on its way to a second straight win in the Edina Holiday Classic and about to take some much needed momentum in the finale against Edina.
All the Eagles had to do was close out five more minutes and they would have their first winning streak since opening the season with two straight wins.
Nearing 11 minutes into the third that all changed for Eden Prairie.
Eagles forward Andrew Knudsen was penalized for contact to the head and ejected from the game.
His penalty left Thunderhawks' defenseman Curtis Simonson on the ice motionless for a few minutes until he was able to sit up and eventually assisted off the ice by medical personnel.
"That got us going," Grand Rapids forward Avery Peterson said. "That is one of your friends and we all love him, so we don't like seeing a cheap shot like that."
On top of the five minute major that comes with that penalty, Eden Prairie's Steven Spinner was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
What once was an assuring two-goal lead now turned into survival mode for the Eagles.
Grand Rapids went to work right away to tie the score and settle for a 4-4 tie with Eden Prairie on Friday, Dec. 21 at the Braemar Ice Arena in Edina.
"We did some silly things today and gave away a game," Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said. "Some things were not smart on our end and we let a win slip away."
Grand Rapids scored three goals in the third period, all on the power play, which included two in the latter stages of the third.
Shaffer Holum pulled the Thunderhawks within one on his goal and was followed by Peterson, who had a goal and two assist, just 1 minute, 12 seconds later.
"It was big for us to get those two goals right away," Peterson said. "We just carried that over into the rest of the game."
The Thunderhawks took the momentum from the third period and brought it to overtime. From the start it seemed it was only a matter of time before they would score and finish off the comeback.
For all the fortunate Grand Rapids had in power play time in the third, it was going to have to kill of a penalty itself.
"It was a pretty crazy ending," Peterson said. "We had the chances at the end of the third and hot on them, but when they got theirs in the end of OT, we had to shift gears."
Eden Prairie unload shot after shot, but if Grand Rapids defensemen were not blocking then, goalie Hunter Shepard was getting a hold of them.
"I like facing a lot of shots and in those situations," Shepard said. "It was pretty crazy going from scoring the goals to having to stop them."
Grand Rapids held off the Eagles power play in the closing minutes and bounce back from a tough loss the night before against No. 1-ranked Edina.
"It shows our character a bit that we can come back after a tough loss," Peterson said. "One of our players got hurt and we were coming off a tough loss to Edina. Our section looks pretty tough, so to come down here and play these teams and being able to comeback on one of them will not only help us in this tournament, but for our sections as well."
Grand Rapids scored three goals in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit and tie Eden Prairie 4-4 on Friday, Dec. 21 at Braemar Ice Arena in Edina.
Eden Prairie led 4-2 late in the third period, but a 5-minute major penalty to Andrew Knudsen for head contact and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Steven Spinner gave the Thunderhawks a five-on-three power play.
Grand Rapids scored twice on the power play to tie the game and force overtime.
Avery Peterson scored the tying goal for the Thunderhawks with 3 minutes, 9 seconds left in the third and also recorded two assists.
The Eagles were led by Mason Bergh's two goals and one assist.
Cody Mann scored the first goal to give Grand Rapids a 1-0 lead in the opening period.
Bergh tallied his first of the night with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first period.
Spinner gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead in the second and the score stayed that way heading into the third.
Eden Prairie took a 3-1 lead on Knudsen's power play goal, but the Thunderhawks never let the Eagles get a lead bigger than two.
Reid Holum pulled Grand Rapids within one on his power play goal, only to have it go back to a two goal deficit when Bergh scored his second.
After the penalties to Knudsen and Spinner, Shafer Holum and Peterson scored just 1 minute, 12 seconds apart to tie the game.
The Eagles had the best chance to score in overtime, but could not capitalize on a power play in the final minute of play.
Hunter Shepard made 33 saves for Grand Rapids while Jake Gerdes turned away 27 for the Eagles.
Both teams will play their final games of the Edina Holiday Classic on Saturday, Dec. 22 at Braemar Arena.
Grand Rapids will take on Section 7AA foe Elk River in the first game.
In the finale, Eden Prairie will take on its Lake Conference rival Edina.
1. Mason Bergh, Eden Prairie
The senior winger had two goals and an assist for the Eagles. He also had plenty of other chances as Eden Prairie's top line of Bergh, Andrew Knudsen and Steven Spinner were causing chaos for Grand Rapids all night long.
2. Avery Peterson, Grand Rapids
Peterson used his big body to score the tying goal late in the third period and preserve a tie for the Thunderhawks. He almost ended the game in overtime with an identical move to which he scored in the third, but just missed on his shot. He also recorded two assists.
3. Steven Spinner, Eden Prairie
Another member of the Eagles' top line, Spinner scored a goal and had two assists. Along with his linemates, he was a force that kept the offensive surge constant all game.