EDINA, MN — In a rivalry as bitter and intense as any in the state, the Edina Hornets were honed in on adding a chapter that was all about revenge against Lake Conference foe and top-ranked Minnetonka.
When these two first met in the Schwan’s Cup Gold Tournament in late December, Minnetonka took it to the then-undefeated Hornets and manhandled them to a 5-2 final. Since that meeting, the Skippers have only lost once in a game against the second-ranked Duluth East Greyhound. The Hornets on the other hand have not lost, undefeated since the setback steamrolling nearly everyone in their path.
So, it was a given the rematch carried a lot of hype between two of the top-three ranked teams in “The State of Hockey.”
With a standing room-only crowd on hand at Braemar Ice Arena and the Hornet band made up of over 100 blasting tunes, the bout had all the makings of a classic… then the puck dropped.
From that moment on, it was Edina’s time to shine and the third-ranked Hornets shone in all their glory en route to a convincing, 8-2, triumph over Minnetonka.
Just 50 seconds into the first, senior Demetrios Komountzis took a pass from Sammy Walker at the point and slapped it through traffic as the Hornets took a 1-0 lead and never looked back.
Before the clock even hit the 10-minute mark left in the opening frame, Edina added two more goals from Lewis Crosby and Jett Jungels to keep the Skippers at arm’s length, 3-0, after one. Had it not been for the acrobatic work of Skippers’ goalkeeper Charlie Glockner (Jr.) this game could have been way more out of hand at the first intermission than it was.
With a 13-4 shot differential, it was a sign of things to come in the coming periods.
— YHH (@YouthHockeyHub) January 26, 2018
The second period was more of the same for both squads. Edina (17-1) dominated in every phase of the game, out-shooting the Skippers 23-8 by the end of the period and adding four more goals to make it 6-0 before Minnetonka could muster anything in terms of score.
David Andes and Jack Bayless scored for Minnetonka (14-2-2), but the game truly belonged to Sammy Walker. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect lit the Tonka defense up for three points in the second period with two goals and an assist. His first goal came off a breakaway where he slotted it neatly above Glockner’s glove-side shoulder. But his second proved to many why he has been the only player from the state drafted this year. Walker took it down the half-boards on the far side of the ice, around both defenders and through the five-hole. Everyone, even the defense, saw it coming, but no one could stop it.
— Brianna Burnham (@brianna_burnham) January 26, 2018
Domination was an understatement for the Hornets which extended its lead to 7-1 after two. With the team demoralized, Minnetonka head coach Sean Goldsworthy yanked his typically fearless netminder and replaced him with senior Cameron Smrekar, who had only four periods and one full game under his belt this season.
That did not stop this Tonka group from remaining a team. When Smrekar was warming up in net before the start of the third, Glockner was seen going up to him. He placed his glove behind Smrekar’s head and spoke what appeared to be words of encouragement. To say that it worked can be interpreted in in different ways. All the pressure was off down six which led to running time in the third under Minnesota High School League rules, but Smrekar held his own facing nine shots while only allowing a single goal the rest of the way.
The goal came from the fourth line, but off the stick of Liam Malmquist who is typically in the running for first or second line time. The revenge match-up ended uneventfully with half the crowd headed for the exits prior to the start of the third.
Edina controlled the game from start to finish and nearly tripled Minnetonka in shots, 32-11. For the Hornets, this game provided signs of progress and focus that can often escape such a talented group. The biggest display of this effort was when they were stuck on a 5-on-3 midway through the second off a tripping and cross-checking call. The Hornets yielded just one shot on goal during those three minutes, however, showing they can shut down an offense even when they are down a man or two.
Even with a win of this caliber, there are still areas of improvement for the Hornets moving forward. Primarily in goal. Senior Garrett Mackay is solid, but there have often been times in his career where he relies heavily on his defensemen and the effort of the rest of the team to boost his stats. He has allowed two or more goals seven times this season and he often sees a low number of shots per game (16.9). Yes, the defense has been playing superb hockey, but this team would become even more of a buzz-saw if they had a shutdown goalie.
Mackay can get there. It will take work, but he has shown consistent effort and growth throughout his Hornet career.
With the win, it sets up a grudge match on February 10th in Minnetonka in what may also be considered the game of the year. In many individual’s eyes, this is the match-up you want either in the state semifinals or the final like it played out in 2010. It will likely become one of the most memorable season-long match-ups in recent memory.
1. F Sammy Walker (Edina) – 2 G, 3 A, 5 Pts
2. F Jett Jungels (Edina) – 2 G, 1 A, 3 Pts
3. F Ben Brinkman (Edina) – 3A, 3 Pts
Next Game Outlook:
Minnetonka continues their road travel, although it is all contained to the west metro of the Twin Cities, with trips to Wayzata, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Eden Prairie, and Hopkins. Wayzata is the one that is sticking out of the bunch as it occurs only two days after this match. It is also going to be a match-up of top-10 teams as Wayzata cracked the list this past weekend. Wayzata’s defense has been on top of their game as of late and their fore-check has allowed them to create scoring opportunities they were not generating earlier in the season.
For Edina, they continue their homestand with another rivalry game Saturday night as Eden Prairie comes to town in what would typically be a must-see match-up. But with Eden Prairie’s struggles on both ends of the ice make it a game some may skip to instead attend the Minnetonka-Wayzata. With that being said, it is still a heated rivalry with the two neighbors historically getting chippy early and often. Their last bout led to 11 penalties including a major penalty for Komountzis for a check to the head. Although the game ended in running time and a 7-1 Edina victory, the Eagles always come to play tough and earn your respect.
Key Players for Wayzata:
F Colin Schmidt (Sr.) – 9 G, 16 A, 25 Pts
F Griffin Ness (Sr.) – 10 G, 15 A, 25 Pts
D Tommy Bergsland (Jr.) – 3 G, 11 A, 14 Pts
G Sawyer Andersen (Sr.) – 6-5-1, 2.29 GAA, .881 SV%
G Trevor Wong (Jr.) – 5-0-0, 1.98 GAA, .905 SV%
Key Players for Eden Prairie:
F Jack Jensen (Jr.) – 13 G, 16 A, 29 Pts
F Carson Jones (Jr.) – 8 G, 7 A, 15 Pts
G Andrew Dietrich (Sr.) – 5-8-0, 4.21 GAA, .858 SV%
Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Edina’s Ben Brinkman (17) looks to set up behind the net to give Sammy Walker (10) a high-percentage chance. (Photo courtesy of West Metro Hockey @westmetrohockey)
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