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Grand Rapids outduels Eden Prairie to remain undefeated

By Trevor Squire, SportsEngine, 12/16/16, 7:00AM CST


The Thunderhawks defeated the top-ranked Eagles 3-1 to improve to 7-0 on the season.

Grand Rapids goaltender Gabe Holum stuffs a scoring chance from Eden Prairie's Casey MIttelstadt during an Eagles powerplay in the second period. Grand Rapids defeated Eden Prairie 3-1. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine

Grand Rapids junior forward Blake McLaughlin finished with a goal and an assist in the Thunderhawks' 3-1 victory over Eden Prairie Friday night at Braemar Arena in Edina. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine

After almost 30 scoreless minutes between two teams that both average at least five goals per game, both clubs were bound to find the net as shot totals continued to pile up.

Blake McLaughlin was the scoring catalyst for the Thunderhawks. He tallied the game’s opening goal and delivered an assist to Gavin Hain in the second period, leading Grand Rapids to a 3-1 victory over Eden Prairie Friday night in the Edina Holiday Classic at Braemer Arena in Edina.

McLaughlin spun around and dished a backhand pass to Hain who capitalized with an equally spectacular play where he crossed Eden Prairie goaltender Nick Weincek and scored while falling with 8.5 seconds left in the second period.

“I could hear (Hain) yelling and we’ve been on (the same line) since peewees so we have some good chemistry out there,” McLaughlin said.

Grand Rapids, who’s ranked third in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, carried its momentum into the third period and executed a goal off the draw where Drake Anderson slid down from the point and tipped a pass from Michael Heitkamp top shelf past Weincek who had 23 saves on the night.

Jack Jensen foiled Grand Rapids’ Gabe Holum’s shutout bid with two minutes left in the game on the power play, putting No. 1-2A Eden Prairie (4-2) on the board.

Holum finished the game with 19 saves to follow up a dominant performance by fellow goaltender Zach Stejskal as the duo have emerged as one of the top goaltending units in the state.

“Both of them are great goaltenders, great friends and great teammates. I’m just lucky to have both of them,” Thunderhawks coach Trent Klatt said.

Grand Rapids (7-0) will now face Class 2A, Section 7 rival, No. 4-2A Elk River, in its final game of the weekend on Saturday, which could be for the tournament hardware.

Eden Prairie celebrates a late third period goal from sophomore forward Jack Jensen. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine

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