What a difference a couple of days can make. After a 7-0 loss at the hands of the Minnetonka Skippers, the Hopkins Royals rebounded with a stunning 4-3 overtime victory over the #1 ranked Edina Hornets at the Hopkins Pavilion Saturday night. Right wing Ryan Colvin rapped home the game winning goal in overtime to spark a celebration worthy of a State Tournament overtime victory.
His team never trailed as they opened a 2-0 cushion in the first period on goals by Johnnie Hicks and Matt Kallas. Hicks 10th goal of the season came off a rebound as Edina goalie John Ankeny made the first save. Ryan Colvin and Archie Skallbeck assisted on the goal at 3:07. Skallbeck streaked up the right side and created the chance as he picked up his 20th assist on the season. Edina seemed a bit taken aback by the aggressive play by the Royals (11-5-1, 1-1) who denied the blue line effectively in the early going, not allowing the Hornets to generate chances off the rush.
Skallbeck is quick and difficult to stop as his bursts to the outside created space for himself and also allowed for chances off the rush. It was a development that became a concern for the Edina defence as Freshman Travis Boyd also became an issue with his skill and puck handling abilities in the same fashion. Both are not the thickest of players, but play big and stay strong on the puck while making good decisions. There was always that sense they could strike quick if the Hornets backed off.
After Matt Hazuka won a draw in the left circle of the Edina zone, Joe Brumfield fed Kallas at the point, who unloaded a howitzer toward Ankeny. The knee high shot snuck between the blocker pad arm and body of Ankey for the 2-0 lead at 7:51 causing a bit of stir in the Pavilion.
Prior to the game, Hopkins coach Chad Nyberg said, “We have nothing to lose.” He couldn’t have asked for more, as his team played with energy, spirit, and conviction.
The Hornets (15-2-0, 1-1) always respect their opponent, and given the recent history of Edina in the Pavilion, Saturday night was not about to be a walk in the parkas they have played in three one goal games. Three seasons ago, the Royals defeated the Hornets.
Still, the Hornets adjusted their game plan as the first period wore on. The defensive corps, anchored by a large group that includes Kallas (6’3”), Tom Plotkin (6’1”), RJ Kakach (6’4”), Tom McCue (6’0”), and Alex Hohertz (6’3”) all were physical and unaffected by the Hornets forwards that are equally big and love to mix it up on the boards in the offensive zone. The key to the Royal defense was they were able to absorb the forecheck of Edina while deny the blue line at the same time.
Saturday’s game marked a coming out party for the group who were still trying to define their identity. Still looking for a replacement of Noah Greene from last year’s team, this group played to their strength that was applying themselves physically, not taking unnecessary risks, and keeping the passing game short and simple. They also denied the Hornets the tight chances by not allowing the Hornets as many second chances as they would like.
Edina out-shot the Royals 59-27 for the game including 19-7 in the first, 19-6 in the second, 19-13 in the third and 2-1 in overtime. Alex Fons was pulled midway through the second period of the Minnetonka game and responded with an effort that will make the rest of the Classic Lake and the Section 6AA take notice. He is capable of winning games on his own. He is the first who said after the game that it was an entire team effort. Yet his calm and determined professionalism afforded his Royals the opportunity to carry on with a game they felt they could win. Edina took control of the second period and it was Anders Lee that scored at 6:05 as he deflected a waist high shot by Jake Heck past Fons for the 2-1 deficit.
The Royals responded with a goal at 9:58 as the slippery Travis Boyd fought off a couple of checks behind the Edina goal. As Ankeny looked on from his left post Boyd advanced the puck to the right corner. He fought off another check and was allowed to walk straight off the corner and wrap the puck around the prone Ankeny who was left alone to handle the skilled Boyd. The goal came at 9:58 and suddenly the Royals were up 3-1.
It also took on the feel of another game last season that featured the Royals knocking off the Minnetonka Skippers by the same 4-3 margin. Edina would benefit from a Marshall Everson power play goal at 13:15 as Connor Gaarder fed him a pass across the goal mouth. Everson gladly accepted the pass and one timed it in the open net for his 24th of the season. His power play was the first in four tries for Edina through two periods, and it was the man advantage that made a big difference in the Edina 5-0 win over Wayzata on Thursday.
Joey Harrington, playing in his 4th Varsity game scored his first career goal on an opportunistic chance in the low slot. Charlie Taft’s shot was saved by Fons and Harrington jumped on the rebound and feathered it on the ice through the five hole of Fons to tie it at three with a little over ten minutes left in the third period.
Ankeny ended up making four saves, two in the second and two in the third that were game saving for Edina. In fact, an argument could be made that of his 27 shots, many were in tight and difficult to handle. Fons made a couple of spectacular saves including a glove save in the second. Ankeny responded with a phenomenal pad save, and rejected the rebound. Then, in the third period, Skallbeck got behind the Edina defense, and Ankey made the best save of the night stretching his glove to his left from the butterfly to preserve the 3-3 tie at the time.
The Royals survived a scare late in the third period as the Hornets had a chance to win the game on the power play with 2:40 remaining. The Royals and Fons held the Hornets in check forcing overtime. After a nerve-wracking overtime, the Royals won it on Colvin’s goal at 4:20 as he hammered away three times at the puck off the right side of the post for his 8th of the season setting off the wild celebration.
Nyberg’s team may not have had anything to lose, yet they also had plenty to gain. And that they did.
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