Minnetonka's Joe Molenaar (10) and Matt Koethe (4) put pressure on Edina's Garrett Mackay (30). The Skippers came up empty on this attempt but Koethe had two goals and Molenaar one in Minnetonka's 5-2 victory. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Joe Molenaar is the hands guy. Swats pucks out of the air as easily as if he were belting beach balls with a baseball bat. Can put the puck anywhere he wants from seemingly everywhere on the ice. Uses his wiry 6-foot, 180-pound frame to transform into a human crowbar, leveraging himself in and out of the tightest of spaces.
Luke Loheit is as much a freight train as he is a hockey player. Skates mostly in a straight line because, well, who is going to get in his way? Wears a modified mohawk and is working on a facial hair configuration that might soon blossom into a full beard. Six-feet and 185 pounds of pure intimidation.
Matt Koethe is the third member of Minnetonka’s all-senior MLK line. At 5-9, 175 pounds, he doesn’t have the size of his linemates. He doesn’t possess the sheer power of Loheit or the silky mitts of Molenaar. What Koethe has is great top-end speed, a nose for net and a knack for putting the puck away when given the opportunity.
That’s plenty of skill in one package, and Koethe put in all on display on Tuesday at Minneapolis’ Ridder Arena in front of a record Schwan Cup crowd in the biggest game of his career.
“Growing up, I’ve played against Edina hundreds of times, it seems like,” Koethe said after scoring twice in the second period of Minnetonka’s 5-2 victory over Edina in a matchup of the state’s No. 1 and 2 teams in Class 2A in the latest state coaches’ poll. “I think that is the first time I have ever beat them, personally. They have always been loaded.”
Koethe’s goals, one off a turnover deep in the Edina end and the other off a Molenaar rebound, came early in the second period and turned a could-go-either-way thriller into a comfortable 4-2 Skippers lead.
Jack Bayless added another goal late in the second and No. 2 Minnetonka (9-0-1) stayed in control from there as it remained unbeaten, handed Edina No. 1 (8-1-0) its first loss and moved on to Wednesday’s Schwan Cup Gold Division semifinals against Hill-Murray.
A crowd of 2,857 came close to filling the building. It was believed to be the largest crowd to witness a Schwan Cup game since it moved its top-level Gold Division from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to Ridder Arena in 2012.
“That is as good a team that I’ve seen in a long time,” said Minnetonka coach Sean Goldsworthy, who was serenaded with a rendition of Happy Birthday after the game by his players. “We’re deep, too. We can skate with them.
After the teams traded rushes and goals in the 2-2 first period, Goldsworthy decided to match his all-senior line against Edina’s forward unit led by Mr. Hockey candidate Sammy Walker. Walker and linemate Jett Jungels accounted for the Hornets’ two first-period goals, but their opportunities were limited the rest of the way.
“I think Luke and Matt and I are pretty confident going up against anyone in the state, so if coach decides to put us up against one of the top guys, guys like Sammy, I think we’re confident in ourselves to shut them down but also to provide offense for our team at the same time,” said Molenaar, who scored a shorthanded goal in the first period.
There had been whispers of this Edina team having the potential to complete a rare unbeaten season. But now it’s Minnetonka that has defeated all comers through 10 games.
"This isn’t February, and we’re not going into March," Edina coach Curt Giles said. "It’s kind of a nice lesson. It’s kind of nice to get your (butt) kicked. It shows you are not exactly as great as people are telling you."
Could it be that Minnetonka is the team that has a chance at going undefeated. The Skippers do have two more games with Edina left on their schedule.
Koethe wasn’t about to look that far ahead. He was just enjoying the win, and the timing of it, coming on Goldsworthy's big day.
“It’s a pretty good birthday present for a coach, to beat Edina like that,” Koethe said.
Minnetonka senior Matt Koethe (4) collects high-fives and congratulations after scoring his second goal in the Skippers' 5-2 victory over Edina. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Senior forward Matt Koethe scored goals 80 seconds apart in the second period as Minnetonka surged past Edina 5-2 in a matchup of the state’s No. 1- and 2-ranked teams in Class 2A coaches' poll, both of which entered Tuesday’s Schwan's Cup Gold Division quarterfinal matchup with undefeated records.
A crowd of 2,857, the largest ever to see a Schwan Cup game since the tournament moved to Ridder Arena in 2012, were treated to a wildly entertaining first period that started with a goal by Minnetonka defenseman Josh Luedtke.
No. 1 Edina (8-1-0) took its only lead on back-to-back goals by Jett Jungels and Sammy Walker midway through the first, but No. 2 Minnetonka forged a 2-2 tie entering the second on a goal by Joe Molenaar with 1:17 left in the first.
Koethe’s goals, both of which came from close range after scrambles for the puck in the crease area, came early in the second and put the Skippers (9-0-1) ahead 4-2. Jack Bayless scored with 1:58 left in the second to cap the scoring.
Minnetonka stayed in control in the third period, when it outshot Edina 12-5. The Skippers had a 34-16 edge in shots overall.
Minnetonka goalie Charlie Glockner stopped 14 shots, and he made a couple of sprawling glove saves in the third to thwart any Edina comeback hopes. Garrett Mackay made 29 saves for Edina.
The MN Hockey Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.
Edina goaltender Garrett Mackay (30) faced plenty of pressure from Minnetonka. He even had to stop a teammate or two, this time Jett Jungles (22) slid into the Hornets' net. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine