Boys’ Hockey and their trek to the’ X’

Syd Pierre, staff writer

Heading into the state finals, the Edina Boys’ Hockey team was seeded second, with a regular season final score of 23-2-0. As junior Ben Brinkman explained, going into the season, the team had “pretty high expectations because we knew we were going to have a good team.” Fresh off an 8-1, Section Six championship win against Wayzata, the Hornets looked focused and ready to play at the Xcel, with the possibility of a state championship on the line.

With a full arena, rowdy crowd and their season on the line, the Hornets did what they do best: score goals. Five different players scored to bring the Hornets to a 7-1 lead over Lakeville North on Mar. 9. Led by Sammy Walker, Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey, the Edina rolled over the Panthers, scoring three goals in the first period, and four in the second. Two of the goals came off of the Hornet’s power play, and two others were scored shorthanded. Walker’s line, with Jett Jungels and Mason Nevers, scored five out of the seven goals and combined for six assists.

The Hornets looked calm but determined throughout the game, most of their goals coming from backdoor passes and capitalizing on missed passes and breakouts that Lakeville made. Fast-paced breakouts, plenty of highlight reel worthy goals and a rowdy student section made for an entertaining win.

Come Friday night, the Hornets faced up against Duluth East, the number three seed in the state. The Xcel was packed, with what seemed like more fans cheering against Edina, and both the student sections looked ready to go, starting cheers and chirps even before the puck dropped. Edina scored first, with an unassisted goal from Evan Shoemaker near the middle of the first period. Duluth East followed up with two goals, which led to a scoreless second period. In the third, Mason Nevers scored his 5th goal of the tournament, getting the Hornets back into the game and bringing the score to 2-3.  

In the final two minutes, the Hornets pulled their goalie after a timeout. Duluth East scored off a faceoff soon afterward, bringing the final score to 4-2, with Duluth East moving onto the championship game. The game was physical, although there were minimal penalties on both ends. The Hornets struggled to gain puck possession in the second period but picked up their intensity and momentum in the third. When asked if he would have wanted to change anything about Friday’s game, Brinkman explained that “it bounces, if the bounces would have went our way more it could have been a different game but some things are meant to be and maybe we weren’t meant to win that championship game.”

The 3rd place game took place on Saturday afternoon and the Hornets showed up to play,  and prove that they could score. “We were all really loose going into the third-place game,” said senior goalie Garrett Mack. Brinkman echoed his statement, saying that Hornets were “just out there having fun. For the seniors, it was their last game and we made it a fun game more than a serious game.”

And score they did, with the final score resulting in an 11-0 win against Centennial, coincidentally the same school that the Edina Girls’ hockey team beat to win state. Edina scored four goals in the first, three in the second and four in the third to clinch their third place win. Sammy Walker led the team with a five-point game (2g, 3a). Mason Nevers (2g, 2a) and Ben Brinkman (1g, 3a) both had four-point games. Although they didn’t get to the State Championship, the Hornet’s had fun throughout their season and showed that they could score, ending their season on a high note.

Looking forward to next season, the Hornet’s will maintain their high expectations and goals. As Brinkman noted, “In Edina, we always have high goals, so we’re going to want to be back in the State tournament and we going to want to be winning Friday and Saturday night next year.”