The cozy environment of Bloomington Ice Garden could not have been a better setting as some of the best players the State has to offer faced off for the right to advance to the Section 2AA final against theBloomington Jefferson Jaguars who dispatched a fatigued Burnsville Blaze team 6-0 earlier in the day.
Danny Mattson brought his 76 points and Mr. Hockey finalist credentials to the table as he matched wits with two other Mr. Hockey finalists in Anders Lee and MarshallEverson of the Edina Hornets before an overflow crowd. All three players were prevalent from the start to the finish. The Hornets rallied from a 1-0 deficit with 4 unanswered goals to defeat the hard working and skilled Stars by a score of 4-1.
Tyler Smith opened the scoring as he converted on a set up from Joseph Labate and Mattson late in the first period for the 1-0 lead at 16:22. The teams exchanged momentum throughout the first period, although it was the Stars that carried the bulk of the play.
As the second period wore on, the Hornets challenged Stars goalie Tommy Burke who was equal to the test and held the Hornets off the scoreboard until Michael Sit had a pass from the left corner hit his leg and deflect in as he was camped at the top of the crease to tie the game at one late in the second period at 14:35. Sit converted 1:40 later on a short handed effort.
Connor Gaarder raced up the right side on a 2-1 and fired a shot at Burke's right pad. He made the save but the rebound landed right in the direction of Sit who left no question about it as he blasted the puck in the back of the net as he was racing in on the two on one for his second of the game and post season. The Hornet penalty kill was the best asset they had all night as they forced things and were aggressive on the Stars all afternoon. It would prove to be beneficial as they picked up the 3-1 lead.
The same penalty that Sit scored on yielded another shortie as Marshall Everson converted on a turnover as he walked in off the left side and fired a shot over the glove of Burke at :25 of the third period. The Hornets were whistled for some penalties which they did not agree with during the second period. It seemed to energize the bench as their focus and determination increased and their execustion followed.
They took over the third period from a defensive perspective and began to lean on the Stars with their large frames and won a large number of individual battles. One had the feeling down 3-1, the Stars had a tough hill to climb. The were not able to get going through the period and Anders Lee added an empty net goal in the closing seconds for the final margin.
With the 1-0 lead after one, the Stars left the impression that they had a chance to put the Hornets on the ropes. Edina was not able to establish much offensively through the first period and a half, and it was the penalty kill that made the difference forEdina . It was almost as though it granted them more space and they were able to pounce with an aggressive read and react pk. The win improvedEdina's overall record to 23-4-0. The Stars ended the season with a 21-5-1. The Hornets play for the Section 6AA final with the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars next Thursday and it can be seen on MyFoxHockey.com at 6pm.
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