The No. 3-ranked Eden Prairie High School girls hockey team opened Section 2AA play by outscoring its first two opponents (Prior Lake and Holy Family) by a combined score of 10-1. Shots on goal favored Eden Prairie 98-35.
“After our last practice before the Holy Family game, I thought to myself that we weren't ready,” said Eden Prairie coach Jaime Grossman. “After the game, I thought we looked more than ready. Our power play looked good, our kill was good and we were dominant five-on-five.”
On Friday, Eden Prairie would meet Minnetonka in the Section 2AA championship game.
Grossman liked his team's chances, until he didn't.
“We had to kill five penalties in the first 19 minutes,” said the coach. “That not how you want to start a game.
“I've been coaching for 27 years,” he added, “and I've never seen so many penalties. It was No. 3 vs. No. 4 or 5, why wouldn't you let the players determine the outcome?”
Minnetonka scored the game's first goal 13 minutes into the first period. Eden Prairie (Sydney Langseth) answered back with a power play goal two minutes later.
The period ended with the game tied at 1-1.
Minnetonka regained the lead 27 seconds into the second period, scoring on its own power play.
Eden Prairie (Langseth again) knotted the game one minute later.
“Syd's second goal might have been the best goal I've ever seen,” said Grossman, “and she did it against a good D and good goalie.”
Minnetonka regained the lead eight minutes later.
“We had our first power play longer than 10 seconds and gave up a shorthanded goal,” said Grossman. “We were exhausted.”
“We didn't set up our power play the way we wanted,” said the coach. “We wanted go low and work from behind the net. Instead we went high-low. Nicholson (Minnetonka defenseman Maggie Nicholson) picked off a pass and they scored on a breakaway.”
Eden Prairie never recovered.
“That goal opened the floodgates,” said Grossman.
Minnetonka scored three more goals in the third period, including its second shorthanded goal of the game.
Final score: Minnetonka 6, Eden Prairie 2.
The two teams combined for 17 penalties.
“That's more than half the game,” said Grossman.
Minnetonka finished one for nine on its power play, Eden Prairie one for seven.
“Penalties were 10-4 against us before they called a couple make-up penalties,” said Grossman. “By then, it was too late.”
Question: Has Grossman re-watched the game?
“I haven't yet,” he said, “but I know where we have to get better. Our special teams wasn't good enough and our defense has be stronger.”
“Penalties have been an issue with us all season,” said the coach. “Some are legit, but some our soft. Our first two penalties on Friday were interference calls off faceoffs. I've only seen two of those in my 27-year career.”
When asked about next year, the coach said he's not ready to go there yet.
“We're still in mourning,” he said. “For the second year in row, I thought we had a team, that if we could get to the state tournament, had a chance to win it all. And for the second year in a row, we didn't get there.”