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Edina’s Sammy Walker might be the fastest player in the state. Put a radar gun on Walker’s linemates, Jett Jungels and Mason Nevers, and their top end MPH isn’t far behind.
Speed, speed and more speed.
When Edina is at playing at its high-revving best, the mismatch with most every opponent is akin to a finely tuned race car lapping a moped.
Such was the case Thursday night in front of a near-capacity crowd at Edina’s Braemar Ice Arena, when the Hornets blew the doors off Minnetonka in an 8-2 victory that showcased the high-velocity stylings of Edina’s top line.
“I think we just jumped on them early and just used our speed,” said Walker, a senior who scored two goals and added three assists to boost his season point total to 47, fifth most in the state. “We got all over their D right away on the forecheck.”
Minnetonka (14-2-2) entered the Lake Conference showdown as the state’s No. 1-ranked Class 2A team in the latest coaches’ poll. The Skippers handed the No. 3 Hornets (17-1-0) their only loss during a holiday tournament in December. That dominating 5-2 Minnetonka victory had been safely stowed in the Hornets' collective memory bank, ready to be extracted and used as motivation on Thursday night.
“They kind of embarrassed us,” Nevers, a junior, said about the Hornets’ loss in the quarterfinals of the Schwan Cup Gold Division. “We kind of had a little chip on our shoulder coming in tonight.”
Added Walker: “I wouldn’t say it was the low point (of the season). It definitely hurt, but I think it helped us a lot in realizing we have to show up every game and be consistent.”
Edina’s Demetrios Koumontzis scored 50 seconds into the opening period, and the rout was on. Lewis Crosby added a goal midway through the opening period, then the Walker line took over. Jungels scored to end the first period and again to start the second. Walker added two second-period goals, both on breakaways. Nevers finished with two assists as the linemates combined for a 10-point night.
“We put those guys together at the beginning of the year, and it has just been a good chemistry all year,” Edina coach Curt Giles said about the trio. “They all skate very well. They all see ice very well. And they really feed off one another.”
Walker, Nevers and Jungels, a junior, were grouped way back during tryouts. It was something of a surprise combination, given the three players had no history of playing together. Jungels and Walker did play together this fall during the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League season, when Nevers and Koumontzis joined forces in another formidable pairing.
“We just know how to find each other,” Walker said. “I think that is huge, just our vision.”
Walker said all three forwards have the ability to work the corners, outmuscle defenders, make plays and find the back of the net. Nevers didn’t necessarily agree.
“They are the two scorers,” he said about Walker and Jungels. “I’m the playmaker. But it just works.”
Jungels ranks second among Edina scorers with 39 points, and Nevers is third with 37.
Just liked you would expect from a good friend and linemate, Nevers turned part campaign manager when asked about Walker’s chances to win the Mr. Hockey Award that goes to the state’s top senior skater.
“I don’t think there is anyone close,” Nevers said. “No one close.”
Chimed in Walker: “You are too kind.”
Senior Sammy Walker and junior Jett Jungels each scored twice on Thursday night as Edina, ranked No. 3 in Class 2A in the state coaches’ poll, steamrolled No. 1-2A Minnetonka 8-2 in a Lake Conference matchup in front of a near-capacity crowd at Braemar Arena in Edina.
Walker, who has committed to play at the University of Minnesota, continued to make his case for the Mr. Hockey award that goes to the state’s top senior skater. He used his unmatched speed to twice score on breakaways, and he also notched three assists. His 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) lead the Hornets (17-1-0, 2-0-0).
Jungels, who plays on a line with Walker and junior Mason Nevers, added an assist to go with his two goals and ranks second on Edina with 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists).
Senior Demetrios Koumontzis opened the scoring 50 seconds into the first period, which ended with Edina leading 3-0. The Hornets were ahead 7-1 going into the third, which was played under running time per Minnesota State High School League rules because of the six-goal Edina lead.
Chad Cousineau and Jack Bayless scored the Minnetonka goals. The Skippers (14-2-2, 1-1-0) defeated the Hornets 5-2 in a December Schwan Cup Gold Division game at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
Minnetonka goaltender Charlie Glockner stopped 16 of 23 shots through two periods before giving way to Cam Smrekar in the third. Smrekar stopped eight of nine shots.
Edina’s Garrett Mackay stopped nine of 11 shots.