Minnetonka's Jared Ridge fires a shot on Edina goaltender Andre Rohkohl. Photo by Loren Nelson
It is not often that a team ranked No. 6 in the state will mention "must win" in January.
But most teams aren't Minnetonka and have its daunting Lake Conference season just beginning and on the horizon, to get a break from grueling conference play, toss in Duluth East and Blaine.
In their previous five games the Skippers were 2-3-0 and was coming off a 5-1 loss to Benilde-St. Margaret's.
To get the ship back on course, the Skippers needed a win and they got a big one, a 4-3 victory against No. 2 Edina at Braemar Arena on Thursday, Jan. 17.
"We needed this one pretty bad," Skippers' coach Brian Urick said. "It feels like it has been a while since we won a big game, so I am pretty happy right now."
If there ever needed to be a sense of urgency from Minnetonka, it needed to be against Edina.
Just 1 minute, 34 seconds into the first period Austin Burt backhanded a shot in after Hornets' goalie Andrew Rohkol tried to pokecheck the puck aways from other skippers players.
Less than five minutes later Connor Thie gave Minnetonka a 2-0.
"Our coaches talked about how we needed to come out strong," Skippers' senior defenseman Tommy Vannelli said, "Getting those goals early gave us some confidence."
Edina tied the score in the first period, but Minnetonka came out in the second and replicated the start it had.
A.J. Klein put the Skippers up 1 minute, 36 seconds into the period and less than five minutes later Tommy Brandabur tallied the game-winning goal with an a picture-perfect wrist shot that beat Hornets' goalie
"I kind of faked a pass and saw a spot in the upper shelf and just got it in there," Brandabur said. "It felt pretty good to have that one go in."
The Skippers needed that one because Edina appeared to be making another comeback from a two-goal defect.
Sophomore Dylan Malmquist pulled the Hornets within one and a nifty backhand move to beat Minnetonka goalie Jacob Berger late in the second period.
That was all the further Minnetonka was going to let Edina go.
With the lead Minnetonka stayed aggressive and held the blue line against the big and physical Hornets' forwards.
In the final two periods it only allowed the Hornets to put 12 shots on goal.
Quality scoring chances were rare and hard to come by.
"I liked how we were really aggressive, especially in the third period," Urick said. "We forced a lot of hockey in their end and you can't get in shootouts or turn the puck over against them because they will make you pay for it. Outside of what they did in the first, we played a really nice game."
The Lake Conference season just began and know as one of the toughest conference's in the state, Minnetonka will have its hands full for the rest of the season, but its victory over Edina is a step in the right direction.
"This was a big win for us because we bounced back after a tough loss and showed the state what we can do," Vannelli said. "This will give us a lot of confidence moving forward because we have a tough schedule ahead of us, but we proved we can win on the road against a really good hockey team."
Minnetonka's Tommy Brandabur scored the winning goal in the second period and Jacob Berger made 24 saves to help give the No. 6-ranked Skippers a 4-3 victory against Lake Conference rival and No. 2 Edina on Thursday, Jan. 17 at Braemar Arena.
The Skippers held a 2-0 lead early in the first period on goals by Austin Burt and Connor Thie, but Edina stormed back late to tie the score when Miguel Fidler and Tim Spicola found the back of the net.
A.J. Klein gave Minnetonka a 3-1 lead just 1 minute, 36 seconds into the second period. Brandabur followed with his goal on a screened shot from the high slot less than three minutes later..
Later in the second sophomore Dylan Malmquist pulled the Hornets within one when he slipped a backhand shot by Berger, but that was as close as Edina would get.
In the third Minnetonka's defense was stout and its forecheck was even better as it bottled the Hornets up in their own zone.
Edina managed only six shots on goal in the third and was unable to pull Andrew Rohkohl for an extra skater in the closing minutes, who filled in for the injured Willie Benjamin in net.
Minnetonka improves to 10-4-1 and will remain in Lake Conference play when it hosts Hopkins on Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Pagel Activity Center.
Edina drops to 12-4-0 and will be on the road to take on Holy Angels on Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Richfield Ice Arena.
1. Tommy Brandabur, Minnetonka
Not known as one of the big goal scorers for the Skippers, Brandabur came up big with the game-winning goal in the second period with an impressive wrist shot that found the upper shelf. The senior also assisted on Minnetonka's first goal in the first period.
2. Tommy Vannelli, Minnetonka
The senior defenseman and Minnesota recruit was stingy all night on the blue line. Vannelli led the defensive corps, which limited Edina to 27 shots on goal and only 12 in the final two periods. He also recorded an assist on the Skippers' opening goal in the first period.
3. Tim Spicola, Edina
Spicola scored his third goal of the season in the first period, which knotted the score at 2. Earlier in the first, he assisted on Miguel Fidler's goal that got the Hornets on the board. The senior now has five points on the season.