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Hornets Throttle Jags, Head to St. Paul 3rd Straight Year

By Pete Waggoner, 03/05/09, 11:43PM CST


Hornets qualify for State Tournament for the 31st time.

Minneapolis, Mn


The Edina Hornets put the foot on the accelerator and never lifted off as they pounded the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars 5-0 in the Section 2AA Final at Mariucci Arena before a capacity crowd. The victory earned the Hornets their 31st appearance in school history and also marks their third in a row. 


As neighboring communities go, Edina and Bloomington Jefferson have always shared a rich and proud tradition with plenty of respect. Jefferson has captured five State Titles including three in a row from 1992-1994. After posting a 26-1-0 record leading up to the game, the talented and quick Jaguars were looking to make their first trip to St. Paul since 2005. The game featured a lot of water cooler banter that questioned whether the Hornets could withstand the balanced scoring attack of the Jaguar’s Caleb Herbert (29-24-51),  Joe Faust (14-26-40), Tyler Dietzler (11-26-37),  TJ Gallus (16-21-37) Jeffery Pauluk (11-25-36), and AJ Siiro (20-15-35). 


Could the Hornets have an answer not only offensively but in their own net for the Frank Brimsek award winning goalie Casey O’Connor? Jefferson was known to forecheck with purpose and authority and could finish with punishing purpose. Could the Hornet defense and defensive zone coverage withstand the pressure of the hard charging Jaguars? 


The answer to all the questions were a resounding yes and the Hornets lowered the boom in resounding fashion against arguably the State’s best team. Caleb Herbert was whistled for an interference penalty at 3:16 and :20 later Connor Gaarder broke the ice as he lurked off the left post and received a well placed pass through the crease from Marshall Everson for the 1-0 lead. Anders Lee was on the front end of that goal as well for the assist that Gaarder blasted into the back of the open net.   


Five and a half minutes later Anders Lee scored a goal that could be seen on rinks at the NHL level as he waited on a puck fed rink-wide in the high slot from Connor Gaarder. As Lee waited with his stick raised and backed away from the puck, he blasted it past O’Connor high to the glove for the 2-0 lead. Not lost on the play was a nifty move that Gaarder made to free up space. Gaarder also threaded a pass through a pair of defenders, and going against the grain found Lee for his 24th of the season.


Edina out-shot the Jags 14-3, and one of the three Jefferson shots was on a long dump in as Johnny Ankeny was not called on at that point to be a factor. Midway through the period, the Jaguars were denied a goal as they fired a bullet from the point labeled for the top shelf, yet it rang off the cross bar and bounced out.  That would have made it 1-1, instead it was Lee with the goal and the 2-0 lead.  


Marshall Everson scored his 41st and 42nd of the season as he buried a pair of short side goals to the glove of O’Connor for the commanding 4-0 lead. His first came at 2:43 of the second period. Just over a minute later, the Jags were whistled for two different infractions setting up the five on three for Edina. It took just :10 for Everson to connect with a rocket up high from the right side. 


Michael Sit converted the back end of a two on one with Charlie Taft to give the Hornets all they needed as they closed out the 5-0 win. After two periods Edina had out-shot Bloomington by a 25-11 margin and had all the goals they needed as they sat back and allowed the game to be played out, much like their game with Holy Angels. Ankeny finished with 18 saves as his club shut down the Jags.


It was an interesting three periods as each time the big three for Edina Everson (42-33-75), Lee (24-51-75), and Gaarder (24-38-62) put on a clinic for the sold out Mariucci crowd. When they had open ice or an odd man rush, a collective gasp could be heard in the arena, similar to that of an old North Star Montreal Candiens game at Met Center when Guy LaFleur and company would have space to work and undoubtedly something exciting was about to happen. 


The final outcome came down to the efficiency in which the Edina defensemen were able to work the breakout and get away from the big forecheck of the Jaguars, and their forwards commitment to the forecheck on the Jefferson defensemen. Their angles were spot on and they pursued the puck with efficiency.


The Hornets head to St. Paul with the idea of capturing the State Title this team has coveted for some time. If Thursday night’s impressive win over Jefferson is any indication, they may well be able to fly their schools tenth championship banner at Braemar Arena.