Turn back the clock, but only so slightly. It looked like 2011 all over again.
That’s when South Suburban Conference schools Lakeville North and Eagan both enjoyed success in the Class 2A boys’ hockey state tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. They repeated the feat this year.
Both teams brought even more credibility to the conference this year, with Lakeville North advancing to the final before losing 8-2 to Edina and Eagan finishing third with a 6-4 victory over Eden Prairie.
“I feel the South Suburban Conference is the toughest conference in the state of Minnesota,” Eagan coach Mike Taylor said. “It always has at least three of the top teams in the state.”
In 2011, Eagan finished third while Lakeville North wound up fifth. The Wildcats beat Edina 5-3 in the third-place game while the Panthers edged White Bear Lake 4-3 for the consolation championship. Both teams’ only setback that year was to eventual state champion Eden Prairie.
“What really sets the conference apart is the depth of quality teams in the conference,” Taylor said. “There is never a night off. The conference is a grind, but really prepares a team for the playoffs.”
Wildcats coach honored
Taylor received the Dave Peterson Award at the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame banquet last week. He has been coach of the Wildcats’ program since 2002.
The award is presented annually to a high school coach who has shown great leadership in developing youth hockey.
“I feel very fortunate to coach in such a welcoming community that has such committed leadership in our youth program,” Taylor said in a news release. “This is not my award. This award belongs to my staff and our youth association board of directors.”
• Two goaltenders grabbed the spotlight in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state tournament Thursday, and both will return a year from now. Eagan junior Andrew Lindgren stopped all 28 shots he faced in a 3-0 victory over Elk River. In the first game of the day, Lakeville North freshman Jake Oettinger turned aside 29 shots in a 2-1 overtime victory over Roseau.
• Shakopee sophomore guard Taylor Koenen made a three-point shot from just behind midcourt at the buzzer, giving the Sabers a 60-59 victory over Chaska in the semifinals of the Class 4A, Section 2 girls’ basketball tournament. She finished with 25 points.