Saturday’s Class AA state championship boys hockey game was a rematch, of the rematch of the rematch of a December game between Lake Conference foes Edina and Eden Prairie.
Before Saturday, the two teams had met three times this season. The Hornets won all three games: 6-1, 5-2 and 7-2.
Why would Saturday be any different?
Instead of taking a defensive approach, Eden Prairie went on the attack and punched Edina right in the mouth.
Sophomore Drew Holt scored five minutes into the game and the first period ended with the Eagles leading the Hornets 1-0. Shots on goal favored Eden Prairie 13-5.
While Eden Prairie was just as dominant in the second period, it failed to add to its lead, and it most certainly had chances to do so. Shots on goal for the second period favored Eden Prairie 13-2.
“We played two pretty much flawless periods,” said Eden Prairie coach Lee smith. “The only thing that didn’t happen was for us to put that second one home when we had all those chances.”
Edina’s Kevin Dulaney scored at the 5:21 mark of the third period. His goal knotted the game.
Twenty-two seconds later, teammate Peter Colby pushed the Hornets to a 2-1 lead.
The speed at which Eden Prairie went from leading to trailing was dizzying.
The Edina faithful picked up on this as their student section broke into a “What just happened” cheer.
Four minutes later, Eden Prairie’s Clayton Schultz tied the game with his second goal of the season.
Note: Schultz scored his first goal of the season in Thursday’s triple overtime state-quarterfinal win over Lakeville South.
Saturday’s third period ended with pucks getting to, but not into the goal. Credit, or blame, two out-standing goaltenders (Louden Hogg for Edina and Axel Rosenlund for Eden Prairie).
The game that wasn’t expected to be competitive was as competitive as all get out.
Players were making plays and goalies were being goalies.
Two minutes and 31 seconds into overtime, Edina’s Jett Jungels centered a pass to Colby, who smacked it home for the victory.
The play was remindful of Thursday’s Jack Jensen goal in triple overtime.
“At that point it was a 50-50 game,” said Jensen.
On Thursday, Eden Prairie was right side of that equation. On Saturday, 50-50 went the other way.
“I thought we deserved to hoist that trophy,” said Smith, “but hat’s off to Edina, they were amazing.”
Yes, Eden Prairie had its chances and yes, the Eagles played arguably their best game of the season.
“It hurts,” said Jensen, “and it’s going to stick with me forever.”
Smith can’t disagree.
“We’ll never be ashamed of our performance,” he said. “Collectively, we rose to the occasion and put on a show. We gave it everything we had.”
You can’t do more than that.