Eden Prairie defenseman Luc Snuggerud puts Wayzata's Chad Olson in a headlock during Saturday night's game. Photo by Brian W Nelson
There were ill-advised passes, fumbled pucks, missed assignments. All of it happening in the Wayzata defensive zone.
Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
The first three minutes of the Trojans’ game against Eden Prairie on Saturday night were so one-sided the rink might as well have been played on the slope of a glacier. The puck was all but stuck in the Wayzata end.
Trojans coach Pat O’Leary couldn’t stand it any more.
“Believe me, that’s not my style,” O’Leary said about bringing the game to a halt after just three minutes. “We just weren’t making simple plays.
“They knew. They are smart, I could have probably taken the timeout and not said a word. I said, ‘What team came out of the locker room? It wasn’t my team, I can tell you that.’ ”
Eden Prairie’s domination lessened slightly after the timeout, and a power-play goal by Hank Sorensen late in the opening period gave Wayzata an improbable lead heading into the locker room. It also provided the required spark in the Trojans’ 3-0 Lake Conference victory at the Plymouth Ice Center.
The fourth-ranked Trojans (16-4-1) are a team built on defense and goaltending. No squad in the state makes blocking shots a bigger priority. Wayzata’s defensemen are well-schooled in playing a physical, conservative style that emphasizes short, crisp passes. As a result, the Trojans are allowing 1.32 goals per game, third-best in the state behind Class 1A schools Luverne, East Grand Forks and Mankato West.
All of which made Eden Prairie’s opening barrage so stunning. Of course it helped that the No. 9 Eagles (12-7-2) unleashed a ferocious forecheck that kept the Trojans on their heels and forced many of those bad decisions and sloppy plays.
“We were pretty rattled to begin the game there,” Trojans senior defenseman Chandler Lindstrand said. “I don’t really know what was going on.
“I’m glad he called that timeout and got us under control.”
Matthew Freytag put Wayzata ahead 2-0 after slamming home a goal midway through the second period. He took a perfect feed through the crease from Chase Heising and fired it into an open net. Luke Paterson added an insurance goal 7:05 into the third with an upper-shelf wrist shot that beat Eden Prairie’s Jake Gerdes on his glove side.
Wayzata’s Vaughan Ahrens made 27 saves, and at least a handful of those were on high-quality chances in the early minutes. He twice stopped Eden Prairie’s Michael Graham from point-blank range in the early going.
“(Ahrens) was phenomenal,” O’Leary said. “He made the saves he was supposed to make, plus he made a couple of big ones.”
Added Lindstrand, “It’s nice knowing he is back there. In case something happens, you know you can always count on him to make a great save.”
The loss was Eden Prairie’s second in three nights to Lake Conference opponents. The Eagles fell to No. 2 Edina 2-1 on Thursday.
“We’re not far away from being top echelon,” Eagles coach Lee Smith said. “We’ve just got to find a way to get those dirty goals. You aren’t going to beat (Ahrens) from outside without getting a rebound.”
Wayzata's Vaughan Ahrens stopped all 27 shots he faced to earn his fifth shutout on the season. Photo by Brian W Nelson