Eagan senior goaltender Tommy Bodeker (33) making a save in front of teammate Derick Kuchera (4) and Lakeville South's John Wiitala (5) and Charlie Heller (17). Photo by Adam Crane
Before Thursday, Dec. 16 the MN Hockey Hub had covered every team in the Class 2A Top Ten except one: Eagan.
The Wildcats didn’t disappoint as they shutout Lakeville South 4-0 in front of a packed crowd at Eagan Ice Arena.
Two of Eagan's goals came from their special teams unit as they scored once on the power play and once shorthanded while effectively killing Lakeville South's six power plays.
“I thought our kids came out with good jump and kept it up throughout the game,” said Mike Taylor, Eagan head coach. “I thought they worked hard.
“This was probably our most complete effort.”
Wildcats’ senior goaltender and co-captain Tommy Bodeker was a main contributor in that winning effort making 11 saves for the shutout.
“My defense made it easy,” Bodeker said. “I didn’t face too many shots but the shots I saw were pretty tough. There was a lot of penalty killing so it was tough but the defense made it easier.”
Eagan’s defense kept Lakeville South’s Justin Kloos and Alex Harvey off the scoresheet and kept the Cougars from getting more than four shots on net each period.
With seven saves in his pocket going into the third period, Bodeker only had one thing on his mind – and it wasn’t the potential shutout.
“I just wanted to keep my team in the game,” Bodeker said. “It was still a close game at that point and I don't really think about that stuff until after the game.”
Even though he may not have been thinking about the shutout, Bodeker still knew he was playing well.
“It gives you a lot more confidence that you're seeing the puck well. I don't really think it changes how I play but it was definitely nice to get the shutout.”
Eagan junior defenseman Eli May. Photo by Adam Crane
Bodeker received help from defenseman Eli May at both ends of the ice during the win.
The Wildcats’ junior did his job in front of Bodeker breaking up scoring chances and clearing the puck when Lakeville South was on the power play.
May also showed his scoring power as he was on fire in the offensive zone. He scored a shorthanded goal with 15 seconds remaining in the second period and contributed two assists.
“We had energy built off of each period and we came away with the win,” May said. “That energy from the beginning of the game helped. I got those couple assists and it was a good play by Michael Zajac up the middle on the penalty kill. He got me the puck and I just shot it.
“It felt good.”
Zajac finished with three points as the forward scored a power-play goal and added two assists. The Wildcats’ junior and co-captain brought the entire crowd to their feet with a shorthanded breakaway opportunity.
“I was looking behind me to see how much time I had,” Zajac said. “Obviously the nerves kicked in and a big smile came on my face.”
Zajac brought the puck in on Lakeville South goaltender Brady Frahm and made a great move. After a couple dekes, Zajac brought the puck to his backhand for a shot.
Frahm showed excellent poise as he made a pad save – one of his 33 saves in the game.
Lakeville South goaltender Brady Frahm makes a pad save on Eagan junior forward Michael Zajac's shorthanded breakaway opportunity. Photo by Adam Crane
“I just wanted to put the puck in the back of the net and didn't get it,” Zajac said. “Props to the goalie (Frahm).”
Zajac may not have won that battle but he and his team won the game and are just fine with their performance.
“We came out strong and played as a team,” Zajac said.
“It was a good win.”
Eagan's Eli May is sent flying in the Dec. 16 game against Lakeville South. Photo by Adam Crane
Eagan was looking for a positive note after tough games against two Class 2A Top Ten teams – a one-goal loss to Edina and a tie with Burnsvillle – both coming on the road.
“Those games put a fire under us,” Eagan junior co-captain Michael Zajac said. “It made us work harder in practice and train even harder."
The hard work paid off on Thursday, Dec. 16 as the Wildcats defeated Lakeville South 4-0 for their second win of the season.
“I think it tells us where we're at right now,” Eagan’s Eli May said. “We needed to build off that tie and loss and we just need to keep coming with heart.”
“It gives us a lot of confidence,” Eagan senior goaltender Tommy Bodeker who made 11 saves for the win.
Eagan junior forward Eric Peterson fires the puck on Lakeville South goaltender Brady Frahm. Photo by Adam Crane
The Wildcats will be looking to build off the shutout victory during their next two games as they travel to face Lakeville North on Saturday, Dec. 18 and then host Class 2A top-ranked Eden Prairie on Wednesday, Dec. 22.
Although the competition will be tough, Eagan has no plans to take their foot off the pedal.
“I just think it's a pretty simple formula that we try to go with,” Eagan head coach Mike Taylor said. “We try to get better every single day and we want to play the full 51 minutes to give ourselves a chance.”
Taylor’s players seem to be behind the their coach's formula and hungry for more victories.
“Those first games we weren't really playing three full periods,” Bodeker said. “I think this game will help us to prepare for a whole game and hopefully we'll beat the Eagles.”
“We need to work hard in practice and keep doing what we're doing,” May added. “We’re going to work on our systems and perfect them. We need to come out hard against (Eden Prairie). They got some strong players and we just need to play our game.”
Eagan junior forward Will Merchant shot sails high over Lakeville South goaltender Brady Frahm. Photo by Adam Crane
The Wildcats, now 2-1-1, have received both praise and criticism but were voted as the eighth-ranked team in the latest MN Hockey Hub Class 2A state rankings.
“People can think what they want,” Zajac said. “When we show up at the rink and we bring our game, I think we can play with anyone.
“I think we train harder than anyone and we have more fire than anyone, so just beware.”
Lakeville South's Justin Kloos (15) carries the puck into the Eagan zone as Connor McGovern (9) and goaltender Tommy Bodeker look on. Photo by Adam Crane
Eagan's Tommy Bodeker made 11 saves and Eli May and Michael Zajac each contributed a goal and two assists in the Wildcats' 4-0 victory over Lakeville South on Thursday, Dec. 16.
The Wildcats improved to 2-1-1 with the shutout victory in front of a packed Eagan Ice Arena crowd anxious to the South Suburban Conference rivals do battle.
Lakeville South's Justin Kloos and Alex Harvey were kept off the score sheet as the Cougars could not find the back of the net despite six power-play opportunities.
Senior goaltender Brady Frahm made 33 saves for the Cougars.
Both teams will not have too much time to dwell on the game as the Cougars and Wildcats will be in action on Saturday, Dec. 18.
Lakeville South has another tough match-up as they travel to Hill-Murray and Eagan travels to battle Lakeville North.
Eagan junior forward Michael Zajac. Photo by Adam Crane
1. Eli May, Eagan
The junior defenseman played solid defense all night, taking away several scoring chances for Lakeville South. May also produced on the offensive end of the ice as he scored a big shorthanded goal with 15 seconds remaining in the second period and added two assists.
2. Michael Zajac, Eagan
Zajac (pictured above) missed a shorthanded breakaway opportunity but was able to capitalize on a power-play chance for a goal. The MN Hockey Hub Top Junior also contributed two assists for the Wildcats in the winning effort.
3. Tommy Bodeker, Eagan
The senior goaltender only saw 11 shots but stopped them all for the shutout victory. Several of those shots came during Lakeville South's six power-play opportunities and it seemed like no matter what kind of shot was fired Bodeker (pictured below), he made the save - including a seemingly impossible deflection by the Cougars in the third.
Eagan senior goaltender Tommy Bodeker. Photo by Adam Crane