Kyle Rau scored twice and survived a scary hit in the corner that left him sprawled on the ice for several minutes and gave him a bruised nose, and defending state Class AA champion Eden Prairie got another clutch performance from big-game goaltender Andrew Ford as the Eagles beat Wayzata 4-1 on Saturday, Feb. 27, in a Section 6AA semifinal at a near-capacity Braemar Arena.
Wayzata was No. 2 and Eden Prairie No. 3 in the Hockey Hub's final big-school rankings.
Rau opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period and scored the backbreaker just 37 seconds into the third directly off a face off, putting the No. 3-seeded Eagles ahead 3-1.
The way Ford was playing, that lead was more than enough to allow Eden Prairie to upend the No. 2-seeded Trojans. He finished with 36 saves and played the final several minutes with a broken facemask after being hit with a shot that shattered a clip that holds one of the mask’s straps in place.
“He’s amazing,” said Rau, who now has 42 goals this season, about Ford. “When we need him, he comes through.”
At one point in the third period, during one of numerous goalmouth scrambles in front of Ford, the goaltender’s facemask flew off, with play continuing for a second or two before the referee could blow the whistle.
“I don’t care how he plays, he can go old-school if he wants,” Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said with a smile. “That was a great performance by him tonight.”
Wayzata’s lone goal was credited to Michael Lee, a junior who wasn’t even listed on the official Sectioni 6AA program being handed out at the door. His goal tied the score at 1 late in the second period.
David Rath also scored in the second period, just 2 minutes, 26 seconds after Lee’s goal, to put Eden Prairie ahead 2-1.
The Eagles’ Mike Erickson added an empty-net goal with 31 seconds remaining.
“We got the one goal, but clearly that wasn’t enough,” Wayzata coach Carl Davis said. “I just thought that Ford was the difference today.”
For Ford, Saturday’s performance was merely the latest in a long line of clutch performances. He’s won championships at every level, dating back to his days as a youth player.
“Ever since I was younger, big games were just always something I looked forward to,” Ford said.