Meat Loaf told us two out of three ain’t bad, but for the Eden Prairie Girls’ hockey team, two out of three is good. Really good. The Eagles capped off an incredible three year run with their second Class 2A state championship, hanging on to defeat Grand Rapids/Greenway 5-3 in a classic Saturday night. Eden Prairie also finishes the three season stretch with an awesome record of 87-2-1.
“There’s a lot of hard work, dedication and heart that went into that streak,” said Eden Prairie head coach Tim Morris. “This is a team with a lot of heart. I just feel so happy, and so proud of them for what they accomplished.”
Before raising the hardware, the Eagles had some hair-raising moments late in the game. Clinging to a one-goal lead at 4-3, Eden Prairie was called for a penalty with 1:22 left in regulation. Grand Rapids had scored on 2-out-of-4 power plays at that point, and with the faceoff in the Eagles zone, Lightning coach Chris Granley decided to up the anti by pulling their goalie for a 6-4 advantage. Off-the faceoff, the puck squirted out of the Eagles zone, Andrea Green picked it up for Eden Prairie and skated in for the empty netter, completing the hat trick, and sealing the title for the Eagles. Morris says he would have rolled the dice in that situation also.
“I would have done the same thing. With the skill that they have, if they control the puck, they are going to move it around and probably get a really good look at the net,” he explained. “You can’t second guess. You have to make a split second decision, and I probably would have done the same thing. It’s one of those decisions you can beat yourself up over.”
A decision like that didn’t look like it would ever be on the radar the way the game started out. Eden Prairie scored twice before there were two minutes gone in the game. First Nikki Ludwigson pounded one in from out in 62-seconds into the game, and then 56-seconds later Kelly Seeler beat Lightning goalie Jessica Havel with a wrister from just inside the right circle.
Green made it 3-nothing 8-minutes later with her first goal. She got to the Lightning blue line, put her head down and did a little swim move past the defender. As she cut back in front, she pulled the puck back and tucked it around Havel into the net. It was the start of a great game for Green,
“What a whale of a game,” Morris said. “It’s really too bad the all-tournament team is picked when it is, because she could have been on it. I told her after they announced the all-tournament team that the medal with the blue ribbon is way more important then that trophy [that all-tournament members receive]. To have that kind of a state tournament, what a memory for her.”
The Lightning didn’t start to get on the board, until Eagle players started to head to the penalty box. Molly Arola scored a power play goal with 4-minutes left in the first period, and then Marina Guyer scored while Grand Rapids had a man advantage to pull the Lightning within 3-2 midway through the second period.
Green gave the Eagles some breathing room with her second goal of the game two minutes into the third period. She picked up the puck at the red line, skated in to the door step and flicked it up past Havel to make it 4-2. Morgan Illikainen scored for Grand Rapids with 3:18 remaining, setting the stage for the classic finish.
After the game, the Eagle players serenaded their head coach with the chant “shave the mustache”. The players asked him to do so after winning the title two years ago, and he did… except he got the razor out in the summer when none of the players could see him.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen this time,” Morris said, handing his Eagles their only disappointment of the night.