Matt Nelson (left) and Dylan Malmquist should play big roles if top-seeded Edina is to advance to its seventh straight state tournament. Photo by Brian Nelson
Prior Lake's Jordan Moran. Photo by Tim Kolehmainen
Moran, a senior, posted some of the state’s most eye-popping goaltending statistics (his 1.69 goals-against average is seventh-best in the state, his .939 save percentage ranks second) during the regular season yet still finds himself as the mayor of goaltending obscurity.
Such is life in Prior Lake, where the upstart hockey program has yet to gain the sort of statewide attention or high-level success enjoyed over the years by powerhouse south metro programs such as Edina, Burnsville and Bloomington Jefferson.
It just so happens that the Lakers reside in Section 2AA with all three of those traditional powers. In a sign of changing times, however, Prior Lake received the section’s No. 2 seed after posting a 16-9-0 record.
Moran, who allowed more than two goals in just three of 22 starts, is the catalyst for Prior Lake’s rise to power.
The only team to solve Moran during the regular season was South Suburban Conference rival Eagan, which lit up Prior Lake by a combined score of 11-7 in their two meetings. The good news? Eagan plays in Section 3AA.
Prior Lake lost its first three games to start the season and closed with losses in its final two games. In between the shaky start and sluggish finish, the Lakers were among the state’s hottest teams, winning the Schwan Cup Silver Division championship in dominating fashion at the height of their run.
Rock solid on defense, the Lakers are hardly prolific on offense, where there is no go-to scorer. Balance is Prior Lake’s signature, as it has five players with 22 or more points and seven with eight or more goals.
Edina's Dylan Malmquist. Photo by Brian Nelson
Bloomington Jefferson's Jack Weiss. Photo by Loren Nelson
The Hornets were superb early in the season, when they were dismantling opponents with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Edina hasn't been as dominate as of late, and the Horents have had a roller-coaster series of ups and downs the past few months. Still, this is a team that's too deep and too experienced to have its run of six straight state tournament appearances end.
This isn't much of a reach, given that the Blaze are the No. 3 seed. But they have the high-end talent to upset Prior Lake in what, if the seeds hold, should be a superb semifinal.
2012 – Edina
2011 – Edina
2010 – Edina
2009 – Edina
2008 – Edina
2007 – Woodbury
2006 – Cretin-Derham Hall
2005 – Tartan
2004 – Tartan
2003 – Roseville
2002 – Roseville
2001 – Hastings
2000 – Hastings
1999 – Hastings
1998 – Hastings
1997 – Henry Sibley
1996 – South St. Paul
1995 – St. Paul Johnson
1994 – South St. Paul