Minnetonka's Austin Burt, left, scored three goals Saturday to help lead the Skippers to a 5-3 victory over Eden Prairie. Photo by Katherine Matthews
Minnetonka forward Austin Burt will tell you he isn’t a natural born goal scorer, that even as a Pee Wee and Bantam he was never cast in the sniper’s role.
A senior who toiled mostly on the Skippers’ junior varsity the previous two seasons, Burt is perfectly comfortable playing a dump-and-chase, muck-the-corners style.
“We know our part of the game is really dumping it in deep and forechecking them hard,” Burt said about the work of his forward line, which also includes senior Tommy Brandabur and junior A.J. Klein, “and that will create opportunities for us.”
There’s no easy way to explain, then, how Burt the crash-and-bash specialist suddenly displayed the touch of a magician every time he came near the Eden Prairie goal.
Burt scored three goals, nearly doubling his previous season output, to lead the No. 5-ranked Skippers past the Eagles 5-3 on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
"He's been plaing great lately," Skippers senior Max Coatta said about Burt. "He's been getting pucks to the net. He's a great two-way player. He's just battling."
Burt scored a goal in each period, his first coming from a sharp angle on a rocket that found the upper reaches of the net. His second goal was another rifle shot, this one from the high slot that found the inside of the intersection of the left goalpost and crossbar.
“I thought I would just throw it on net,” Burt said. “See what would happen. And I got lucky.”
Austin Burt, background, celebrates one of his three goals with linemates Tommy Brandabur (40) and A.J. Klein. Photo by Katherine Matthews
Burt’s third goal, which tied the score at 3 early in the third, was the easiest of the bunch. He corralled a rebound that had kicked out to the high slot and whipped a shot in the mostly open net.
“He’s been really good lately,” Minnetonka coach Brian Urick said about the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Burt, who has six goals in the Skippers’ last five games after scoring one in the first 12. Burt had the game-winner on Thursday as Minnetonka knocked off No. 1-ranked Wayzata.
“He’s on a nice little string here,” Urick said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s a kid who can skate, and he’s real strong on the puck. I feel like when you get some confidence, and you can play the game pretty well, that helps.
“I think he feels like he belongs now.”
Burt said it took him about six games to adjust to the faster pace and more physical play at the varsity level.
“It’s a really big jump,” he said. “Everyone is so much faster and so much stronger. It’s like jumping from Bantams to high school, even, that big of a jump.”
“For me it probably took six games for me to kind of get it down and understand that you’ve got to keep your head up at all times or you are going to get crushed.”
Burt’s emergence as a reliable scorer has coincided with a five-game winning streak for the Skippers. Since a 5-1 loss to Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Jan. 12, Minnetonka has defeated Edina, Hopkins, Holy Angels, Wayzata and Eden Prairie in succession.
The Skippers had struggled to find consistent scoring beyond first-liners Coatta, Connor Thie and Jack Ramsey during a 2-4-1 stretch that ended with the Humbling loss to the Red Knights.
“For a while there we were relying on a couple guys for scoring,” Urick said. “You aren’t going to win that many games unless you are really getting support from all the guys."
Senior Austin Burt scored three goals, and senior Max Coatta batted home the game-winner with 5 minutes, 32 seconds remaining as No. 5-ranked Minnetonka rallied in the third period to beat Eden Prairie 5-3 on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
Eden Prairie (8-9-1) led 3-2 heading into the third after getting goals from seniors Andrew Knudsen and John Sullivan in a dominating second period.
Burt, who entered the game with four goals, scored his third of the night just 2:55 into the third when he grabbed a rebound in the slot and fired the puck into an open net.
Coatta got his team-leading 18th goal of the season and put Minnetonka (14-4-1) ahead 4-3 when he somehow knocked the puck in baseball-style while skating just outside the crease.
Minnetonka senior Charlie Huminski closed the scoring with 1:09 remaining.
Senior Nic Bentz scored his first varsity goal for the Eagles in the first period, which ended with the score tied at 1 after Burt got the first of his three goals.
Minnetonka sophomore Jacob Berger made 24 of his 33 saves in the final two periods. Eden Prairie sophomore Jake Kielly made 29 saves.
1. Austin Burt, Minnetonka
Checker? Grinder? Defensive specialist? Nah, this kid is a goal scorer. At least Burt looked like one against the Eagles, registering a hat trick on a variety pack of goals, including a gorgeous upper corner snipe in the second period and another on a no-mistake rebound shot into an open net in the third. Burt, a senior who played on the Skippers’ junior varsity most of last season, had all of four goals entering the night.
2. Max Coatta, Minnetonka
To say all Coatta does is score goals isn’t entirely true. Make that clutch goals. The senior sniper – Minnetonka’s all-time scoring leader -- added another game winner to his resume with a nifty deflection late in the third period.