It was billed as a heavyweight battle, or Friday night at the fights as Edina and Eden Prairie squared off for the second time in less than a month. Game one went to the Edina Hornets as they topped the Eden Prairie Eagles by a score of 3-2 on December 20th. A sold out Eden Prairie Community Center was packed to the rafters as 1100 fans took in a action packed intense high school hockey game.
It was dubbed a classic by MyFoxHockey.com's Bart Archer as the #1 ranked Edina Hornets captured a hard fought 2-1 win in overtime over the #7 ranked Eden Prairie Eagles. Connor Gaarder scored his 14th and 15th goals of the season, both in identical fashion.
Gaarder had a flair for the dramatics as he buried a pass from behind the goal line with :02 left in the first period. Anders Lee made a slick move to his left and bought space off the end wall. He fired one to the waiting Gaarder in the slot who buried it through the five hole of Eden Prairie goalie Andrew Ford.
The first period did not have a high number of scoring chances and when a chance evolved, the Eagles Ford was on his "A" game as was Edina goalie Connor Girard who stepped in for Edina goalie John Ankeny who took to illl earlier in the day. The game was Girard's first Varsity start and he looked like a cagey veteran making several stops with traffic and deflections coming his way as he turned aside all 6 shots directed his way.
The Eagles (10-3-0, 7-1-0) took over the second period as they worked the neutral zone and offensive zone much of the period. First, they rung a bomb off the cross bar, and then eventually beat Griard as sophomore centre Kyle Rau blasted a power play shot past the Hornet net minder from the slot. With taffic infront of Girard, Rau maintained patience and walked to the slot and a quality scoring lane. He uncorked a bullet that beat the Edina goalie low to the stick side. Nick Leddy and Mitch Rogge assisted on the effort at 7:28.
Girard and his Hornets (14-1-0) did not panic and stayed on task. As the period wound down, they dodged the Eagles who were winning a good chunk of the one on one battles in all three zones.
Edina began to assert themselves in the third period and began to settle in on their transition game. Sophomore defenceman Matt VanVoorhis was scratched from teh Hornet lineup as he was diagnosed with mono. Joey Harrington began to earn shift after shift for the Hornets as his strenght and one on one ability was winning over more ice time. As he was progressing, so were the Hornets and the top line. They couldn't solve Ford who was solid all night long.
In overtime, it was the Hornets line of Lee, Mashall Everson, and Gaarder that commanded the most attention. They struck at 4:07 as it was Lee again from the end wall who found a perfectly postioned Gaarder. Lee carried the puck behind the net to Ford's left and feathered a pass to the waiting Gaarder. His pass was on the money as Gaarder one timed the puck to the back of the net for the thrilling overtime victory.
Gaarder said that his team was not concerned about the line up changes, "We knew he (Girard) was going to do his job, and we needed to do ours."
Both teams did their jobs as well as any team can do, and entertained a packed house and MyFoxHockey.com to an instant classic.