The Edina Hornets (2-0) will host the Burnsville Blaze (0-2) at Braemar Arena on Thursday night. It is a rematch of the legendary Section 2AA final that the Hornets won 4-3 in overtime on an Anders Lee goal just 9 months ago. The Blaze were a senior laden club last year led by Tyler Barnes and Jake Hendrickson among others.
The Blaze are working on establishing a new identy as Zach May and Zack King return as players who contributed significantly last season and are expected to do so again this year. To date, the Blaze lost a 4-2 game in their opener against the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars. In that affair, it was the Jags who pounced on the 4-0 lead after two as they watched the Blaze climb back in with two goals in the third period. Andy Pearson and Alec Wroblewski scored the Blaze goals. Goaie Aaron Schlink maned the net in the Jefferson game.
Two days ago, it was the defending State Champion Hill Murray Pioneers answering the bell with a convincing 6-0 win over the Blaze at the Burnsville Civic Center before a statewide crowd observing on FSN. Not only were the Pioneers effective, the were controlled in a well played game as FSN's Kevin Gorg looked on as his beloved Blaze were doused. Over the two games Burnsville was outshot by an 82-36 margin, and yeilded 40 or more shots in both games. Taylor Sturlaugson manned the pipes for the Blaze and made 36 saves in the effort.
Last year the Hornets needed overtime in the regular season that one was played at a packed Burnsville Civic Center. This year, the attention turns to Edina and the Hornets. It has been well documented that the Hornets are without one of the best players in the State, and perhaps one of the best in the last five years as Zach Budish is out with the ACL. They have looked beyond that, and in two games have scored 15 goals.
Anders Lee has 8 points (3g-5a) in two games and is second in the state in scoring behind only Joey Benik of the St. Francis Saints who has racked up 7g-5a-12pts in 2 games. The Hornets Connor Gaarder, a solid all around player has picked up 3g-2a-5pts in his two games to help pace the Hornets. Always lurking is Marshall Everson (2g-2a-4pts) who plays big in big games. A pleasant surprise has been the play of sophomore Michael Sit who has stepped in nicely up front for the Hornets with 2g-3a-5pts.
Defensively and in the goal, the Hornets are expected to be solid. One concerning issue for the Hornets will be the availability of junior defenseman Jake Heck who will be out with an "upper body" injury. He was one of 5 returning blue-liners to Curt Giles club. John Ankeny was a stone wall in goal for the Hornets against the Wayzata Trojans in the 4-1 Edina victory.
The slick skating Blaze will not be impressed by the Hornets and the home opening crowd. Quite the contrary. This is an emotional lot that will be able to feed off the pomp and cirmcumstance of Braemar Arena.
The Blaze are not in the mood to drop to 0-3 on the season. It is possible however, and a coach of Janne Kivihalme's stature will not allow that to derail his team and their steps toward the section playoffs.
All the action can be viewed on your High School Hockey News and information leader, MyFoxHockey.com. The puck drops at 7pm, and the crew looks forward to everyone joining.