A year ago, Minnetonka rode a strong run through the ultra-talented Class 2A, Section 6 boys’ hockey tournament all the way to the state title game. This time around, Eden Prairie is showing flashes of that same path.
The Eagles shut out the Skippers 4-0 on Saturday in the section semifinals at Braemar Arena, completing what Eden Prairie players and coaches described afterward as one of — if not the — best games of the season.
“It was up there,” Eagles coach Lee Smith said. “We’re going real well right now. The effort was real good. Our guys didn’t want them to end the season two years in a row, let’s face it.”
Eden Prairie, the top seed, used only two digits for inspiration: 7-2.
Those numbers were the score of Minnetonka’s victory over Eden Prairie in the section final last year. They were scrawled on the white board inside the Eagles locker room Saturday.
“They embarrassed us last year,” said Eagles goaltender Andrew Ford, who stopped all 27 shots he faced. “It was redemption.”
After fourth-seeded Minnetonka came out blitzing early, Curt Rau got Eden Prairie’s scoring started with a slap shot goal through traffic 11 minutes, 37 seconds into the first period. Jack McCartan and Kyle Rau then scored second-period goals before Des Shavlik’s tally with 4:31 left in the game sent fans scurrying to the parking lot.
Burnsville 5, Bloomington Jefferson 2: Unorthodox but true: Burnsville built steam Saturday by playing shorthanded.
In its victory over No. 2 seed Bloomington Jefferson in the Class 2A, Section 2 semifinals at Braemar Arena, three Blaze goals came during or moments after being shorthanded.
“Definitely not the way we wanted it,” coach Janne Kivihalme said. “But we hung in there. The game is about momentum, and we try to gain it anyway we can.”
With senior defenseman Eddie Wittchow serving two minutes for interference, junior Hunter Anderson got Burnsville on the board at 1:42 of the second period on a second-effort goal, poking the puck into the net after his initial shot was blocked.
Wittchow then made it 2-0 when, fresh out of the box, he took a breakaway pass from classmate Mike Dockery and roofed it past Jaguars goaltender Eric Fabano.
Burnsville, the No. 3 seed, took a 4-1 lead into the third, but the Jaguars cut it to 4-2 on a power-play goal by senior Ryan Siiro with 5:18 to go. Just 15 seconds after that, however, Wittchow notched his second goal of the game off a blast from the point.
“We’re not very good with two goal leads, so that was good to get that last one,” said Wittchow, who now has 11 goals after scoring just three the last two seasons combined. “Things definitely went our way.”