Edina beats Blaine again thanks to another clutch goal; Minnetonka up next.
Throw the names of all the Edina forwards into a helmet, pluck one out and there’s a good chance you have just identified the player who is going to score the next big goal for the Hornets.
On any given night, any given player might throw the game-changing hit, block a shot ticketed for the back of the net or make a drop-dead gorgeous pass to set up a goal.
Or score that game-turning goal.
The only variable for the Hornets that doesn’t change is the outcome. After beating Blaine 3-2 on Tuesday, Dec. 29 in the semifinals of the Schwan Cup Gold Division at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Edina has won nine straight and 10 of 11.
Against Blaine, it was junior Steven Fogarty scoring the winner in the third period. He beat Bengals goaltender Danny Harper after linemates Jake Sampson and Blake Chapman did the bulk of the work along the boards in the corner.
“They were cycling the puck in the corner, and (Jake) Sampson made a nice pass backdoor,” Fogarty said. “I kind of whiffed on it, but it still went in.”
The goal was not unlike the one scored by Edina’s Jon Cote on Dec. 26, when he partially fanned on a third-period shot that also snuck past Harper. The Hornets beat Blaine 1-0 in that game, shutting down a high-powered Bengals’ offense that revolves around standout center Nick Bjugstad.
“After playing them once we knew what to expect,” Fogarty said. “Obviously Bjugstad is a good player, and they’ve got other guys who can wheel.”
Edina has some speed, too. In fact, all four of the Hornets’ lines are high-energy, high-revving units that give opposing defensemen fits because of their quickness and chemistry.
“We’ve got four lines, and we all know each other well, we all hang out,” Fogarty said. “It’s working out well for us.”
After a stretch that includes the two wins over Blaine and other eye-catching triumphs over highly regarded Duluth East, Eden Prairie and Elk River, the 10-1-0 Hornets are among the hottest teams in the state.
In fact, the only team on a better run is undefeated and No. 1-ranked Minnetonka, Edina’s opponent on Friday in the Gold Division finals at the Xcel Energy Center.
“We expect a lot from them, they have an all-star lineup,” Hornets senior defenseman David Jarrett said. “We have nothing to lose. They are going to be the big dogs in that game.”
1. Steve Fogarty, Edina
Junior forward scored the game-winner 3:45 into the third period, proving he's yet another clutch scorer a team full of them.
2. Johnny Ankeny, Edina
Senior goaltender got some help from his best friends, the goalposts, on at least a few Blaine shots but otherwise continued what has been a stellar stretch of performances by stopping 35 shots. He's allowed just two goals in his last three games.
3. Johnny Brodzinski, Blaine
Junior forward had a goal and an assist, helping the Bengals' top line continue to flourish despite a mini-scoring slump by linemate an Minnesota recruit Nick Bjugstad.