Full hearts, no losses: Edina Boys’ Hockey brings home another championship

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Full hearts, no losses: Edina Boys’ Hockey brings home another championship

Lucky number thirteen: Edina pulls through to win 3-2 in overtime.

Lucky number thirteen: Edina pulls through to win 3-2 in overtime.

courtesy of Joe Carlson

Lucky number thirteen: Edina pulls through to win 3-2 in overtime.

courtesy of Joe Carlson

courtesy of Joe Carlson

Lucky number thirteen: Edina pulls through to win 3-2 in overtime.

Syd Pierre, page editor

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Heading into the 75th annual state hockey tournament, the Edina Boys’ Hockey team was seeded first and looking to bring home yet another championship trophy. They were never considered an underdog.

In a team full of superstars, it was the unsung heroes of the Hornets who shone the brightest during the state tournament. These players brought all of the things a coach like Curt Giles could dream of: heart, effort, integrity. A combination of these attributes led the Hornets to their 13th championship win, a feat that seems impossible and untouchable to most. But not to the Hornets, who came together when it mattered most.

Opening their first game on Thursday night, the Hornets seemed calm and collected. Fresh off of a 5-1 win over Benilde St. Margaret’s, the team faced off against unseeded Moorhead. The top line comprised of seniors Jett Jungels, Mason Nevers, and Liam Malmquist, who together racked up three goals in the first two periods. Jungels’ goal happened just under a minute into the first period, as he set the pace for the rest of the game with a quick, bar-down shot.

With strong breakouts, physical play from both teams, and an energetic crowd, the Hornets sealed their first game of the tournament, clinching the 4-1 win with an empty-netter from senior Kevin Delaney. Moorhead’s coach commented on the speed and dynamics that the Hornets’ first line brought to the game, as well as the depth of the team, which would continue to serve them well throughout the rest of the tournament.

Edina’s top lines continued to contribute during their next game versus St. Thomas Academy. Unlike the night before, both teams remained scoreless for the first ten minutes of the game. But then Edina opened the floodgates, leaving St. Thomas in a 0-3 hole entering the second period. Ultimately, the Hornets’ relentless speed proved to be too much for St. Thomas, as they scored another goal in the second, followed by two additional goals in the 3rd period. Liam Malmquist racked up four points during the 6-3 win, with 3 goals and 1 assist. Nothing could get in Edina’s way, including the nine minutes of penalties St. Thomas had by the end of the game. After Friday night’s game, the Hornets seemed unstoppable, rolling over their opponents with crisp passing and textbook plays.

Saturday’s championship matchup between Eden Prairie was a different story. The Hornets looked like a different team for the first two periods. EP scored once in the first period during a power play caused by too many Edina players on the ice. A scoreless 2nd period from both teams followed with Edina struggling to connect. They missed breakout passes, lost the puck in the neutral zone, and racked up 6 minutes of penalties in the 2nd period with only their goalie, sophomore Louden Hogg, keeping them in the game.

Meanwhile, EP was all over the ice, using their experience from playing Edina during the regular season to confidently shut them down. With a packed crowd, competing student sections and bands, the tension in the Xcel Center was palpable. Heading into the third period, Hornet fans were torn, conflicted by the performance they’d witnessed in the first two periods, but unwilling to give up on their team quite yet.

Unbeknownst to the crowd of conflicted Edina fans, something was stirring inside of the Hornets’ locker room in between periods. Led by the eleven graduating seniors and spurred on from Giles’ demand to “see a little heart” from his players, the Hornets determined that they weren’t ready to let the game slip away from them. So, they did what they’d done best all season; take control. Senior Kevin Delaney sparked first, stealing the puck away from an EP defenseman and scoring bar down unassisted, just 5 minutes into the 3rd period. It was his second goal of the tournament and the Hornets’ first of the game. A mere twenty-two seconds later, Peter Colby scored, slipping a pass from Brett Chorske into the net off of a one-timer, putting the Hornets in the lead for the first time that night and shifting the momentum of the game. EP followed up with another goal of their own, tying the game up 2-2 near the end of the 3rd period.

Despite close calls for both teams in the end of the period, including a near-miss from Peter Colby just seconds away from the final buzzer, the game headed into overtime. By nature, hockey is a game of emotion. A well-used saying on the ice is “not too high, not too low,” implying the importance of staying mentally focused no matter the score. The Hornets did just that, using their momentum from the 3rd period to carry themselves through into overtime. Both sides of the crowd were frantic, cheers and groans echoed across the rink with each missed scoring opportunity.

As it turned out, they didn’t have to wait long for the conclusion of the game. Colby scored his second goal of the game, one almost identical to his goal in the second period, as he buried a pass from Jungels into the net. Colby’s goal clinched the Hornets’ 13th state tournament win, making them the first high school to have both their Girls’ and Boys’ teams win championships in class AA hockey in the same year. He followed his goal with a celebration, modeled after Patrick Kane’s, “the heartbreaker,” and the team celebrated so hard afterward that a few of them walked away with nosebleeds.

Giles was quick to point out the impact the eleven graduating seniors had on this year’s team, noting how they were able to lead the team when it mattered most. “They found a way to win. Sometimes it’s not pretty, it’s not easy, but I give them an awful lot of credit,” he said, adding on that “they got the job done.”

The depth of the Hornets’ leadership and talent showed over the course of the season, but it was most prominent during the championship game. Delaney, mainly a JV player who never had a spot on an A or AA team, worked his way up to the varsity team this season, and couldn’t say enough about how much it meant to him that the team welcomed him in with open arms. Colby, whose game-winning goal was his ninth of the season, gave credit to his teammates and captains. When asked about his game-winning goal, he pointed out the pass that Jungels had given him, noting that, “There’s a reason he’s a Mr. Hockey Finalist.”  

Giles noted the amount of work Delaney and Colby had put in over the past few years, “both these kids have worked so hard to get to the point where they’re at now and I give them so much credit for the amount of effort they’ve put in,” he said.

Unlike a few of the other seniors on the team, Colby isn’t quite sure what he wants to do next. He’s interested in playing juniors and been accepted into a few colleges, but no matter what comes next, he knows he’ll always remember the group of teammates he was able to win this championship with. “I’ve played together with some of these kids for 12 years, for my whole hockey career, and this has always been a lifelong goal, ” Colby explained.

His game-winning goal still hadn’t sunk in yet after the game; he explained while shaking his head, remarking how his season and Edina hockey career had ended on an “unbelievable” note.

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