EDINA, MN — Out-muscled in nearly every aspect by bitter rival Minnetonka in an opening-round loss at the Schwan’s Cup Gold Holiday Tournament was not the way Edina was looking to start a string of games leading into the toughest and most grueling part of their season.
Coming into 2017-18 with aspirations of a return to the state tournament after a two-year hiatus and a team loaded with Division-I and potential NHL talent, the loss was something not many pundits in the local Minnesota hockey community saw on the horizon.
Even though the game pegged the top two teams in the state, many thought Edina was going to run the table due to the sheer speed and finesse the team possesses. Yet, the Hornets were not going to let a loss to Minnetonka this early in the season put a damper on their entire campaign. Not only will they see the Skippers two more times before the end of the regular season, but a loss to a currently undefeated, talented, and brilliantly coached team is nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, it has allowed Edina to refocus and figure out who they are as a team and get them believing in each other as teammates. Realizing their strengths and weaknesses instead of solely relying on their usually superior skills would allow them to coast to a record 13th state title.
After losing 5-2 to Minnetonka (10-0-2), No. 1 in The Minnesota High School State of Hockey Rankings, on December 26, third-ranked Edina (11-1-0) has been rolling in every area of play as they had just prior to the loss to begin the New Year off right on the right skate.
Winning the consolation portion of the Schwan’s Cup Gold Holiday Tournament with a 5-2 win against #7 Centennial and a 5-1 triumph over St. Michael-Albertville, Decemeber 27-28, respectively, Edina was ready to get back to the cozy confines of Braemar Arena with a match-up versus the struggling Burnsville Blaze (2-10-0).
With coach Curt Giles was out with an illness, the Hornets tested their depth as they started backup netminder Ramsey Bell (So.) along with non-traditional starters Mason Reiners (Jr.) and Lucas Flemming (So.) on defense. Edina would utilize all four lines over Giles’ traditional two.
Needless to say, very little was left to be desired for the home team as they came out speeding down the ice, out-shooting the Blaze 15-2 in the first period that saw Burnsville’s only two shots come off dinky backhanders near the perimeter on changes. Edina built a 2-0 lead on goals from Arizona State-commit Demetrios Komountzis (Sr.) and Northern Michigan-commit Jett Jungels (Jr.).
Edina dominated play the next two periods en route to a 6-1 victory over Burnsville. Komountzis nearly doubled his season total with four goals while chipping in with an assist on another marker to put him at 10 goals on the year. He has truly begun to show signs of life, offensively, with the players placed around him. He is not the best shooter, as many scouts I have talked with have mentioned, but within the right system he can be highly productive and has shown tremendous signs of leadership and loyalty to his team.
The Hornets rarely showed any signs of frustration with the Blaze defense, passing effectively and efficiently to out-shoot the opposition, 45-12. Seven of Burnsville’s shots came in the third with the game out of reach.
If it was a career-day for Komountzis then it may have been one for Burnsville starting goalkeeper Conner Mauck (Sr.) as well as he turned away 39 shots in the losing effort. He was magnificent in net throughout the game regardless of the score and had it not been for his ability, the game may have gone into running time. He was able to halt numerous breakaways from some of the best forwards in the state while being in position to block several beautifully set up point-blank shots.
In the end, Burnsville was able to get one on the board during a power play early in the third from Grant Achan (So.), but Edina’s overall talent was too much for the Blaze to match throughout the evening.
1. C Demetrios Komontzis (Edina) – 4 G, 1 A
2. G Conner Mauck (Burnsville) – 39 Saves
3. F Lewis Crosby (Edina) – 2 A
Next Game Outlook:
Edina will have their hands full with another Top-10 team in No. 5 White Bear Lake on Thursday evening at Braemar Arena, while Burnsville will be match up against Section 3AA foe Bloomington Jefferson.
For the Hornets, they will be facing a stout defensive team that has a jaw-dropping 1.20 goals-against average this year and is scoring nearly five goals a game, offensively, at a 4.90 clip. Focus and discipline are going to be two of the biggest keys to victory for the Hornets in green and white as penalties have seem to become problematic as of late with four against Burnsville.
Key Players for White Bear Lake:
F Max Jennrich (Sr.) – 11 G, 6 A, 17 Pts
F Chase Hamstad (Sr.) – 7 G, 10 A, 17 Pts
G Stephen Uremovich (Sr.) – 3-0-2, 1.88 GAA, .889 SV %
G Evan Foss (Jr.) – 4-0-0, 0.50 GAA, .969 SV %
Edina Girls Update:
With a game against top-ranked Blake (14-0-1) looming, the No. 3 Edina Hornet Girls’ team (11-1-1) looked to focus on the positives of last season on Tuesday night at Braemar Arena. Having been to the state title game on numerous occasions in the past, they were finally able to claim a state title in 2017 under first-year head coach Sami Reber.
Going 28-1-1 in 2016-2017, the girls hung their first-ever banner from the rafters in Braemar with a cheering and exuberant crowd looking on during the first intermission of the boy’s game against Burnsville. The group is truly a
magnificent one as they have shown poise throughout the tumultuous years that included several coaching changes.
Nevertheless, Edina is proud to have these girls skating for the community and the school is highly-anticipating the bout with Blake on January 20.
Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch
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