The back half of January has seen Minnetonka cool as much as the weather.
The Skippers were hot (and undefeated) until a 5-2 stumble at home to Edina on Jan. 24, which sank Minnetonka from Class 2A's No. 1 ranking — which it had held from the start of the season.
Ok. Sank is a bit of an exaggeration since the Skippers are ranked No. 2, but Minnetonka's shown signs that ice is forming on its play.
Since Jan. 12, when the Skippers allowed Hermantown to come back from a three-goal deficit and leave Pagel Activity Center with a 3-3 tie, Minnetonka hasn't dominated opponents. The Skippers ran their record to 15-0 by rolling all but two opponents (Duluth Marshall in a 2-1 win and White Bear Lake in a 3-2 victory).
It was more of the same (but a different outcome) against Edina, as Minnetonka led 2-1 heading into the third period. The Skippers also held a two-goal advantage in the third period against Eden Prairie on Feb. 2 before letting the Eagles tie the game and force overtime, where Minnetonka earned a 3-2 win.
The Skippers hope to see the ice out this week, especially before seeing the No. 1-2A Hornets in a Lake Conference rematch on Saturday.
The Minnetonka player most interested in warming up might be Charlie Glockner. The senior goaltender leads the state in wins (19) and is third in goals-against average (1.41) and save percentage (.938), but he didn't play to form in the first game against to Edina. He gave up four goals on 33 shots, just the second time all season he’s allowed three or more goals. Glockner's been so good in net that he has more shutouts (three) than games in which he's given up more than two goals.
It remains to be seen if Minnetonka will enter the postseason as the favorite to win state, but as of today, the rest of the field must feel better about their chances to dethrone the defending champ, Edina included. If the Hornets can sweep the Skippers in the regular season, not only will they likely take the Lake Conference crown, but they can carry a rink full of confidence into the postseason.
And that's not good news for opponents who await an Edina team boasting an offense that scored 24 goals in four Lake matchups the last two weeks.
Jett Jungels and Liam Malmquist have particularly enjoyed conference play for the Hornets (17-2-1, 4-0). Malmquist has two goals, 11 assists and 13 points in league games, while Jungles has eight goals, six assists and 14 points.