Edina Forwards Dylan Malmquist (No. 20) and Connor Hurley (No. 16) scored two goals each on Thursday Feb. 2. Photo by Adam Crane.
For at least one game, Edina’s top two scoring forwards, Connor Hurley and Dylan Malmquist, earned the title of ‘dynamic duo.’
In the Hornets' 4-0 bashing of Eden Prairie on Thursday, Feb. 2, Hurley and Malmquist arrived at Edina's Braemar Arena to play the role of Batman and Robin, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese… well you get the point.
The two tallied a combined seven points, including two goals apiece. Malmquist showed off his ability to find Hurley in open areas, and Hurley was there with his cannon of a shot to create rebounds for Malmquist to knock in.
Hurley, a sophomore transfer from Holy Angels, and Malmquist, a freshman, started working on their chemistry together early on, and the combination has paid handsome dividends.
They have combined for 74 points this season. Throw in linemate Andy Jordahl, and the the forward unit accounts for just around 51 percent of the Hornets' offense.
Edina forwards Dylan Malmquist (No. 20) and Connor Hurley (No. 16) work hard on defense. Photo by Adam Crane.
“For the scrimmages at the beginning of the year, coach (Curt Giles) took a couple of games … and coach finally put me, (Malmquist) and (Andy Jordahl) together,” Hurley said after the game. “We just started clicking right there.”
Good chemistry can be hard to spot, but Edina coach Curt Giles struck gold when assembling the line.
“You never know what’s going to happen with stuff like that,” Giles said. “Hurley and Malmquist are new to the program this year so you don’t know what you’re going to get. You try and put some personalities together and hopefully they gel, and fortunately for us, that group has gelled.”
Two young forwards may have a hard time gushing about their own abilities, but Malmquist and Hurley had no problem describing the strengths of their counterpart --and sharing the secrets of what exactly makes their duo so lethal.
“He just goes,” Hurley said of Malmquist. “He knows when to use his speed, he’s got a really good shot and he can finish. I just know when he’s in front of the net and I pass to him it’s going in.”
“He has great speed, he has sick hands and he can put the puck away,” Malmquist said. “We’re good friends off the ice so that helps us on the ice. We just know that each other will be there for each other. We like passing the puck to each other because we know the other can do a lot with it.”
The Hornets and their top line gained much more than bragging rights with their victory over the rival Eagles on Thursday. They moved to 4-0-0 in Lake Conference play, pushing away a chance for Eden Prairie to tie them in the conference standings. Edina holds the top spot, ahead of the Eagles and No. 2-ranked Minnetonka.
“It feels great,” Malmquist said. “It kinda shows that we can beat anybody.”
Parker Reno (No. 5) celebrates with the top line after an Edina goal on Thursday Feb. 2. Photo by Adam Crane.
Sometimes when a team isn’t playing at its highest level, the remedy to gain some momentum comes with a power-play opportunity.
In Edina’s 4-0 win over Eden Prairie on Thursday Feb. 2, the Hornets didn’t allow themselves to make that mistake, staying away from the penalty box until Parker Reno was whistled for a penalty with 6 minuts, 41 seconds to play in the third period.
“It’s extremely important when you’re playing against a good team like Eden Prairie, is that you stay out of the penalty box,” Edina coach Curt Giles said. “The last thing you want to do is take yourself out of the ballgame just due to the fact that you’re doing something that you didn’t need to do.”
Although they ended up taking a checking-from-behind penalty in the third along with Reno’s elbowing call, staying penalty free in the first two periods when the game was still undecided permitted the Hornets to dominate in the offensive zone.
Few penalties also meant that, while he was tested, junior goaltender Willie Benjamin wasn’t peppered for long periods of time. With chances to a minimum and no free opportunities, Benjamin was able to shut the door on an Eagles offense that converts on 21 percent of power play opportunities.
“We knew they had a good power play, coach told us about that before the game,” forward Connor Hurley said. “We just knew we couldn’t take any dumb penalties.”
Edina’s top line provided the firepower for the No. 5-ranked Hornets (17-3-0) in a 4-0 shutout against No. 6-ranked Eden Prairie (13-5-1).
The Thursday Feb. 2 game at Braemar Arena in Edina belonged to the starters for Edina from the word ‘go.’
Dylan Malmquist opened the scoring for Edina when he tipped a bouncing puck into the net that had been deflected by Eden Prairie's goaltender Derrick LaCombe. Linemate Connor Hurley was responsible for the blast that gave Malmquist the goal, and Malmquist returned the favor later in the first, assisting on the second goal.
That goal for the Hornets was another blast from Hurley. In the second period, Hurley scored again, and again it was assisted by Malmquist.
Finally, in the third period, Malmquist capped the scoring with a rebound goal that was, surprisingly, not assisted by Hurley.
The two finished with a combined seven points a linemate Andy Jordahl also tacked on an assist.
Derrick LaCombe made 31 saves for the Eagles, but let up juicy rebounds all night that the Hornets pounced on for two of their goals and numerous other great scoring opportunities.
1. Connor Hurley, Edina
Hurley scored twice and tallied an assist. The sophomore forward assisted on the first goal and then netted the next two, essentially sealing the game in the second period. Hurley leads Edina in points with 40 (18 goals, 22 assists).
3. Willie Benjamin, Edina
Benjamin stopped 25 shots to blank the Eagles. He didn’t face much sustained pressure, but he did have to make some key saves. The junior goaltender is now 13-3-0 and allows an average of 2.08 goals per game. His .923 save percentage ranks 10th in the state.