Prior Lake goaltender Trevor Boschee watches the puck sail past a leaping Eden Prairie player during Thursday night's matchup in Prior Lake. Photo by Loren Nelson, LegacyHockeyPhotography.com
Will Schumacher, decked out in a purple blazer and wearing a gold chain around his neck, had something of a retro look as he walked out of the Prior Lake locker room with Abba’s Dancing Queen blasting in the background.
Alex Bump made a fashion statement with his gray blazer thrown over a T-shirt, too.
But Schumacher and Bump, sophomores with old-school sensibilities, aren’t as concerned about style points as they are the final digits on the scoreboard. Both scored clutch goals in Thursday’s 5-3 upset victory over visiting Eden Prairie, the state’s No. 2-ranked team in Class 2A in the coaches’ poll.
Afterward, they talked in a Dakotah! Ice Center hallway about what they’ve learned this season about protecting early leads, closing out tight games and the formula for beating one of the state’s elite in Eden Prairie, a team the Lakers might very well see again in February in the section playoffs.
“When you are out there and you do it enough, you start to feel comfortable,” Schumacher said about managing the nerves that come with tight finishes such as Thursday’s. “And that helps us grow and make us a better team in the long run. Like in sections, if it’s a close game at the end of the game, we’re comfortable with it.”
The adjustment from Bantams to high school has been a smooth one for Schumacher, Bump and fellow sophomore forward Sam Rice. The trio are runaway scoring leaders for the Lakers, who have already knocked off another highly regarded section rival in Minnetonka, not to mention high-powered South Suburban Conference foes Burnsville and Eagan.
The sophomores combine youthful enthusiasm and creativity with a no-fear mentality. So, even though Schumacher’s goal directly off a face-off stunned not only Eden Prairie, the crowd and longtime linemate Bump, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the play that produced the winning goal was completely unscripted.
“The coaches can’t take any credit for that at all,” said Prior Lake coach Joe Pankratz. “Nope.”
Schumacher, normally a wing, cruised into the face-off circle with the idea of pushing the puck forward. Bump was ready to crash the net for a rebound. Except there was no rebound. Schumacher caught the puck clean before it could touch the ice. He caught Eden Prairie goalie Axel Rosenlund completely off guard, as Rosenlund didn’t move until the puck sailed over him and into the net for a 4-3 Prior Lake lead.
“I was just kind of shocked,” Bump said. “I didn’t really know what was going on until I saw it in the net.”
“That fourth goal hurt,” Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said. “The one off the face-off. I don’t know how that went in the net. But it did.”
Bump scored midway through the second period on a breakaway as Prior Lake surged to an early 2-0 lead. Schumacher had no doubt his longtime linemate was going to score on the play.
“One-hundred percent, one-hundred percent,” he said about the likelihood of Bump scoring in that situation. “I’ve got to be confident.”
Schumacher leads Prior Lake with 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists), Bump has 19 points and Rice has 18 points, including a team-leading nine goals. The next highest Prior Lake scorer has nine points.
All three sophomores played for a Prior Lake Bantam AA team that was ranked among the state’s best last winter. They suffered a heartbreaking loss to Edina in the first round of the state tournament.
“Obviously the sophomores still have a lot of room for improvement, but those three are pretty high end sophomores,” Prior Lake coach Joe Pankratz said.
Sophomores who play and talk as if they were seniors.
“I think it’s just about playing as hard as you can,” Schumacher said about the formula for beating Eden Prairie. “Being as hard on the pucks as you can. If you put don’t put effort in against them they are just going to go right down and score.”
“They played hungrier than we did,” said Smith, who lost the services of forward Carter Batchelder, a Colorado College commit, to a collarbone injury early in the first period.
Prior Lake's Alex Bump makes some noise as he heads to the bench after scoring a first-period breakaway goal against Eden Prairie on Thursday. Photo by Loren Nelson, LegacyHockeyPhotography.com
Sophomore Will Schumacher’s goal directly off a second-period face-off proved to be the winner as Prior Lake upended Eden Prairie 5-3 on Thursday in a non-conference matchup at Dakotah! Ice Center in Prior Lake.
The loss was the second straight for the Eagles (8-2-1, 0-0-0), ranked No. 2 in Class 2A in the coaches’ poll.
Unranked Prior Lake (7-4-1, 2-3-1), meanwhile, continues to pad a resume that includes victories over highly regarded Minnetonka, Burnsville and Eagan.
Schumacher was taking a draw in the left face-off circle when he drilled the puck over a startled Eden Prairie goaltender Axel Rosenlund to put the Lakers ahead 4-3 with 7:05 left in the second period.
Prior Lake, buoyed by the scoring of Schumacher and fellow sophomores Sam Rice and Alex Bump all season, also got a first-period breakaway goal from Bump to go up 2-0.
Eden Prairie’s Reagan Sheperd and Ben Steeves scored in the first to tie it at 2-2.
Prior Lake’s Will Magnuson and Eden Prairie’s Kam Langfels traded goals in the second, setting the stage for Schumacher’s winner. Prior Lake’s Matt Beaty scored into an empty net with 1:06 left to clinch the victory.
Rosenlund finished with 19 saves while Prior Lake’s Trevor Boschee, another sophomore, had 30 stops.
Prior Lake's Laz Kaebel, right, attempts to control the puck as teammate Beau Kennedy (16) deals with a stick malfunction. Photo by Loren Nelson, LegacyHockeyPhotography.com
The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.