Lee Smith, head coach of the Eden Prairie High School boys hockey team, went into Sunday’s Section 2AA seeding meeting thinking that winning the Lake Conference would be worth a few No. 1-seed votes.
He was wrong.
Having the section’s best record, highest ranking (Eden Prairie is ranked No. 3 in Let’s Play Hockey’s final regular-season poll) or highest QRF value didn’t win the Eagles any votes either.
Prior Lake beat Eden Prairie in Prior Lake at the beginning of January.
End of story.
“I guess we’re the No. 2,” said Smith.
On Sunday, Prior Lake was awarded Section 2AA’s top seed. Eden Prairie was seeded No. 2, Minnetonka No. 3, Chaska No. 4, Holy Family No. 5, Chanhassen No. 6, Shakopee No. 7 and New Prague No. 8.
Note: Lake teams Eden Prairie and Minnetonka are on the same side of the bracket.
Eden Prairie ended its regular season with three convincing wins.
On Tuesday, Eden Prairie traveled to St. Louis Park and beat No. 7-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret’s 6-2.
Ben Steeves counted a hat trick, John Mittelstadt two goals and two assists. Luke Mittelstadt dished three assists.
On Thursday, Eden Prairie traveled north and beat Saint Michael-Albertville 6-2.
The victory clinched a share of the Lake Conference title.
Carter Batchelder scored twice. Steeves, Canyon Pergande, Jackson Blake and Mason Langenbrunner scored lone goals.
On Saturday, Eden Prairie put a bow on its regular season by beating rival Wayzata 5-2.
Steeves would wear his fifth hat trick of the season. Drew Holt scored twice.
A third-period assist pushed John Mittelstadt’s career-points total over the 100-points mark. Only 16 other Eagles, including big brother Casey, have tallied 100 or more points (Kyle Rau is No. 1 on the list with 216 points).
Saturday’s win over Wayzata pinned Eden Prairie on a 19-5-1 regular season.
“A week ago,” remembers Smith, “we talked about how we needed to play better. We finished 3-0 and had our best week of the year.
“The guys know their roles,” he added. “They’re ready.”
No. 2-seeded Eden Prairie opens Section 2AA play on Thursday (today) with a home game against No. 7-seeded Shakopee.
If Eden Prairie wins, it will play the No. 3 Minnetonka vs. No. 6 Chanhassen winner on Saturday at Braemar. Saturday’s semifinal is scheduled to start at noon.
The Section 2AA championship game is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Mariucci Arena.