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Grand Rapids survives sloppy effort to top Edina

By Drew Herron, SportsEngine, 12/15/16, 7:15AM CST

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Thunderhawks' goalie Zach Stejskal stops 42 shots in 5-3 win over Hornets

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Grand Rapids senior Connor Stefan (16) celebrates his first-period goal that gave the Thunderhawks a 2-0 lead over Edina. Grand Rapids won the game 5-3. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine




Grand Rapids’ coach Trent Klatt was at a loss for words following his team’s 5-3 triumph over Edina that moved his squad’s record to 6-0 on the season.

“It was capital U-G-L-Y,” he said. “There was nothing good about this performance.”

The Thunderhawks, ranked No. 3 in Class 2A by the state coaches’ poll, made the most of their modest scoring chances and rode goaltender Zach Stejskal’s 42 saves to fend off the Hornets, who outshot Grand Rapids 45-18.

A win is a win, but this will prove anything but memorable for a Grand Rapids team that will consider itself fortunate to win on the opening night of the 35th annual Edina Holiday Classic at Braemar Arena.

“We played by far the worst game we’ve played all year,” Klatt said. “We did so many things wrong. We tried to play too cute, our line shifts were too long, and things broke down way too often in our own zone. We were fortunate to score a couple goals at key times, and that’s the only reason we won. We were bad. We just didn’t compete.”

Edina (3-2) opened the scoring less than six minutes in when Luke Johnson converted on the power play to give the Hornets an early lead.

Grand Rapids responded later in the period with goals from Gavin Hain and Connor Stefan before Drake Anderson’s goal early in the second pushed the lead to 3-1.

In the third, Edina tied it at 3-3 after a Jett Jungles’ goal with 5:30 to play, but the No. 7-2A Hornet's hard work was eventually undone, as it had been for most of the night. 

Thunderhawks’ senior captain Micah Miller’s goal with less than three minutes to play proved decisive as Grand Rapids held on to the win. 

For Stejskal, who faced Hornets’ players that were cycling constantly and given free reign to occupy the slot, it was just about tending to the business in front of him.

“Sometimes there are games like this,” Stejskal says. “When you face so many shots, the only thing you can really do is to stay focused and take them one at a time.”

Grand Rapids will return to work Friday night at Braemar, where they will face top-ranked Eden Prairie (4-1) in a highly-anticipated showdown.

“This is just a game we need to let go,” Klatt said. “Thank god the sun will come up tomorrow, because we need to park this one and start a new day.”

goalie

Grand Rapids goalie Zach Stejskal stopped 42 of the 45 shots he faced. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine


First Report

Micah Miller’s goal with less than three minutes to play proved decisive on Thursday night as Grand Rapids survived a fierce battle with Edina to prevail 5-3 on the opening night of the 35th annual Edina Holiday Classic at Braemar Arena.

Despite being outshot 45-18 and outplayed for long stretches, the Thunderhawks, ranked No. 3-2A by the state coaches’ poll, keep their perfect record intact, improving to 6-0.

Luke Johnson opened the scoring less than six minutes into the game, converting on the power play to push the No. 7-2A Hornets out to an early lead.

Grand Rapids responded with a pair of goals from Gavin Hain and Connor Stefan in the span of a minute and Drake Anderson added a third early in the second period. 

Edina (3-2) would make it 3-3 after Jett Jungles’ goal with 5:30 to play, but conceded goals to Micah Miller and Blake McLaughlin (empty net) in the final moments. 

Edina goaltender Garrett Mackay stopped 13 shots while Grand Rapids’ Zach Stejskal turned aside 42 saves for the victory.

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Moorhead's Jack Stetz (21) throws his arms up as he and his teammates celebrated the win. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

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Micah Miller leaps to the fans after scoring the game winner.