Mr. Hockey finalists Kyle Rau and Tony Cameranesi waged a classic battle among two of the state's best players. They battled in the face off circle, off the rush, on the end boards, physically, mentally, and for three periods, and overtime the score finally settled it at 9:19 of the second overtime with a patient effort around the Wayzata crease to capture the section 6AA title.
The victory marks the 6th state tournament appearance for the Eagles and second in three years. Eden Prairie (21-5-2) never trailed in the game and even had a a pair of two goal leads. The Eagles had a 3-1 lead midway through the third period that evaporated as the Trojans, led by Mario Lucia, went to work and forced overtime.
After a scoreless first period, Eagle defenseman Dan Molenaar was a benefactor of an odd bounce early in the second. He cleared the puck into the Wayzata end looking for a change. As the Wayzata defenseman looked ring the the puck from the right corner to the left, it took a wicked carom off the end boards and traveled toward the Wayzata crease. It hit the stick or skate of goalie Aaron Dingman and trickled past the goal line for the 1-0 Eden Prairie lead at 2:42.
Luc Gerdes opened a 2-0 Eden Prairie lead as he dangled off the left wing and muscled toward the left post. He took the puck and worked a nifty back handed toe pull to buy some room and found an opening off the post and tucked it home past Dingman for the 2-1 lead.
The Wayzata Trojans (20-6-2) were led back by the big three of Tyler Klein, Cameranesi, and Lucia. It was Klein that got things going at 8:14 of the second period to cut the lead in half as they went to the third intermission.
The Eagles Mason Bergh put his club up by two at 3-1 at 1:33 and the Eagles were looking comfortable playing with the lead. Slowly, the Trojans went to work and began to wrestle the lead away. First, it was Mario Lucia with a quick shot off the left circle to beat Eden Prairie goalie Andrew Ford at 8:14.
The surge continued as Bryan Tabery tied the game at three just 1:07 later shifting the pendulum of emotion to the Trojans favor. The Eagles countered through the third period and things settled in for the overtime where each team had a number of high caliber chances.
That set up Rau's heroics as he lifted his team to the win off a scramble at the top of Dingman's crease. He held the puck to the forehand as a number of Trojan players desperately tried to back up their sprawled and prone goaltender. Rau waited long enough until he had an opening and deposited the goal hard on the ice setting off a wild celebration.
Both games created every emotion possible in a sporting event as the tension of potential game turning moments occurred, yet were countered with terrific plays, saves, checks, defensive plays, or odd bounces the other way. Joyous emotion was seen after both games with dejected bone numbing disappointment was on display after both games as well.
Unfortunately for two of the four teams on the schedule, last night meant the season would have to come to an end for two teams that were deserving of a night on the biggest stage in high school sports at the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament. They all deserved that shot and last night gave hockey fans globally the chance to celebrate two of the most memorable games we will see in some time.
1. Kyle Rau, Eden Prairie
The Eden Prairie center and Mr. Hockey finalist battled with the highly regarded and productive Wayzata Trojan top line. He had the game winner in double overtime, fired 12 shots on goal, and created scoring chances all night. His defensive play and face off work was a big part of the Eagle success.
2. Tony Cameranesi, Eden Prairie
Cameranesi went toe to toe with his Mr. Hockey finalist rival Kyle Rau. He did not give in and the UMD bound center iceman was a force in all three zones. With line mates Mario Lucia and Tony Klein, their line was dominant for long stretches. He had an assist on Klein's goal.
3. Andrew Ford, Eden Prairie
The veteran goaltender played like the battle tested goaltender that he is. He turned aside 34 Trojan shots in the win. He made several key saves during the first and second overtime periods.