The LeSabre

The LeSabre

The LeSabre

Edina concludes their journey with a state title for the 14th time in school history

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Edina celebrates with their state champion trophy, medals, and hats. (Photo used with permission from Luke Schmidt)

On Saturday March 9th, 2024, the Edina Hornets won the Class AA Boys Hockey State Tournament for the 14th time in program history.

However, getting to the State Tournament was no easy task for the Hornets. Heading into section play, they were ranked the third best team in the state with two other top five teams being in their same section. Wayzata had the top seed in the section and was ranked number two in the state. There was also a very good Benilde-St. Margaret’s  team who sat at the number three seed in the section and ranked number five in the state.

Round one of section play went very smoothly for the Hornets with a 6-0 win over Hopkins. Senior forward, and University of St. Thomas commit, Bobby Cowan, opened up the first period scoring both of Edina’s two goals in the period. He would later go on to complete the hatrick in the second period scoring on the Hornets fourth goal of the game. Edina would go on to score another two goals in the third period and outshoot the Royals by a total of 51-16. In addition to this dominant performance by the Hornets, senior goaltender, Joe Bertram, picked up his fourth shutout of the season.

Edina would move on to face Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the section semifinals. The Red Knights appeared to have Edina on their heels with a dominating first period. The Hornets took two penalty’s in the opening period and were outshot by a total of 13-4. Luckily for the Hornets, Joe Bertram was able to stop all of the shots faced and make it out of the first period with a 0-0 game. The Red Knights would continue this momentum and score the first goal of the game five minutes and twelve seconds into the second period. Despite being down 1-0, Edina appeared to gain life in the second period and eventually outshoot the Red Knights 13-9 this period. It did not take long for this momentum from the Hornets to carry over to the third period as sophomore forward, Caleb Pittsley, scored the game tying goal only two minutes and eleven seconds into the period. The game stayed at 1-1 for almost the entirety of the third period with a lot of back and forth play as well as one penalty for each team. After a long game that appeared to be heading to overtime, the Benilde crowd was silenced when Edina scored with only twelve seconds remaining on the clock. Senior forward, Bobby Cowan, was able to notch his fourth goal of the playoffs with assists going to senior defenseman, and University of Massachusetts commit, Barrett Dexheimer, as well as senior forward, and University of Minnesota commit, Jackson Nevers. The score would remain 2-1 in favor of of the Hornets, and they would move on to the section finals.

Bobby Cowan celebrates to student section after scoring against Benilde-St. Margaret’s. (Photo used with permission from Charlie Dekker)

In a much anticipated section final, the Hornets would face off against the Wayzata Trojans in front of a sold out crowd at the Bloomington Ice Garden. The Hornets and Trojans faced off twice during the regular season where the Hornets defeated the Trojans 4-1 in late January but then the Trojans got there revenge on the last game of the regular season defeating the Hornets 4-3 in overtime. The momentum gained by the Trojans over their last win over Edina carried right into the section final as they scored one minute and thirty seven seconds into the first period, giving them a 1-0 lead. Wayzata senior forward, Brittan Alstead, was able to score the goal with a single assist from senior forward, Rhys Wallin. The score would remain 1-0 when the first period came to an end with the shot totals favoring Edina 9-8. The Hornets would strike next six minutes and nine seconds into the second period on a goal from sophomore forward, Mason West, with assists going to Nevers and Cowan. Four minutes and thirty seven seconds later, the Hornets would take their first lead of the game after senior forward, Ryan Flaherty, scored on the power play with assists going to senior forward, John Halverson, and freshman forward, Freddie Schneider.

Flaherty celebrates after scoring on the power play against Wayzata. (Photo used with permission from Charlie Dekker)

The second period would end in favor of the Hornets 2-1 and the shots for the period were 10-9 in favor of Edina for a two period total of 19-17. The momentum gained by the Hornets in the second period would carry over into the third as they dominated the period. Edina increased their lead eight minutes and seven seconds into the period on a short handed goal from Dexheimer with assists going to sophomore forward, Sam Peckham, and West. Just three minutes and forty four seconds later, Cowan would score his fifth goal of the playoffs with assists going to Nevers and Dexheimer. The Hornets were able to maintain their 4-1 lead the rest of the game and shutdown all of the Trojans last ditch efforts late in the game and secure the victory. Edina ended up outshooting Wayzata in the third 10-3 for a game total of 29-20. With this victory, the Hornets officially punched their ticket to the State Tournament.

Edina takes team photo in front of student section after defeating Wayzata to advance to State. (Photo used with permission from Charlie Dekker)

The Hornets ended up facing off against the champions of section 8AA, Elk River/Zimmerman, in round one of the State Tournament. These two teams played each other early on in the regular season and resulted in a dominating 4-0 win for the Hornets with the shots being 50-9. The Hornets were all over the Elks from the opening puck drop. It only took three minutes and twenty seconds into the first period for the Hornets to strike with a goal by Schneider and the assists going to Cowan and Nevers. Despite the Hornets controlling the pace of play and outshooting the Elks 10-3, the score remained 1-0 at the end of the first period. In the second period the Hornets appeared to finally figure out how to get past the Elks junior goalie, Gavin Greniuk, as they scored five unanswered goals. Sophomore forward, Casey Vandertop, opened up the scoring for the Hornets in the second period after five minutes and forty seconds of play with assists going to Pittsley and Flaherty. This goal appeared to have opened up the flood gates for Edina as their next four goals of the period were all within the following eight minutes and six seconds. After a short thirty nine seconds following the goal from Vandertop, Halverson was able to give Edina a 3-0 lead with assists from Pittsley and Flaherty. Vandertop would then go on to score unassisted for his second goal of the game eight minutes and twenty eight seconds into the period. Just one minute and fifty five seconds following Vandertop’s second goal, West was able to capitalize on another unassisted goal for the Hornets, giving them a 5-0 lead. Vandertop would then go on to complete the hatrick thirteen minutes and forty six seconds into the period with assists going to Pittsley and Dexheimer. However, just one minute and one second later Elk River was able to gain some life after an unassisted goal scored by senior forward, Daniel Babcock. The second period finally came to a close with the Hornets leading 6-1 and outshooting the Elks that period 11-3 for a two period total of 21-6. The Elks actually appeared to gain confidence from their late goal in the second period and carry it into the third period. The Elks were able to score the only goal of the third period coming from senior forward, Kole Mears, with assists going to senior defenseman, Hayden Jasper, and Babcock. However, the Elks unfortunately ran out of time as the goal from Mears was scored fourteen minutes and fifty two seconds into the period, leaving them still down 6-2 with only two minutes and eight seconds remaining. The Elks ended up outshooting the Hornets that period 8-5 for a game total of 26-14 in favor of Edina. With this 6-2 win over the Elks, the Hornets would advance to the state semifinals.

Vandertop celebrates after scoring against Elk River in the Quarter Finals. (Photo used with permission from Charlie Dekker)

 

In round two of the State Tournament, the Hornets would face off against the champions of section 7AA, Grand Rapids. These two teams played each other earlier in the year and it resulted in a 6-2 victory for Edina with the shots being 43-27 in favor of the Hornets. The Hornets were all over the Thunderhawks in the first period. Edina was able to strike first six minutes and twelve seconds into the period on a goal from Nevers with the assists going to West and Cowan. The Hornets would then score again at the twelve minute and thirty two second mark with a goal by Halverson assisted by Pittsley and Vandertop. Only a minute and twenty six seconds later, senior forward, John Warpinski, would get his first goal of the playoffs with assists going to Peckham and Schneider. The Hornets would would go on to score one more time this period with a goal coming from Cowan and assisted by Dexheimer and Peckham. The first period came to an end with the Hornets leading 4-0 and outshooting the Thunderhawks 13-7. The second period had zero goals from either team despite there being a total of ten penalty minutes combined from the teams. The Hornets outshot the Thunderhawks this period 9-5 for a two period total of 22-12. The penalty trouble for both teams carried into the next period as Edina had a total of eight penalty minutes in the third and Grand Rapids had a total of four. Bobby Cowan was able to capitalize on the power play six minutes and twenty three seconds into the period with assists going to Dexheimer and West, increasing their lead to 5-0. Following this goal, the Hornets would run into some penalty trouble and give the Thunderhawks some hope. Grand Rapids was able to get on the board when senior forward, Kyler Miller, scored on a power play with assists going to senior forward, Gavin Forrest, and sophomore defenseman, William Shermoen. The Thunderhawks would strike again just two minutes and seven seconds later, again on the power play, with the goal coming from senior forward, Jacob Garski, with the assists going to junior defenseman, Luka Rohloff, and sophomore defenseman, Seth Carlson. Despite the Hornets granting the Thunderhawks two more power plays following this goal, they were able to shutdown all of Grand Rapids chances. The score would remain 5-2 the rest of the game and end in Edina outshooting them that period 9-6 for a game total of 31-18. With this victory for the Hornets, they would advance to the State Championship and look to continue their revenge tour after losing in the State Championship last season to Minnetonka by a score of 2-1.

Nevers celebrates after scoring against Grand Rapids in the Semifinals of State. (Photo used with permission from Charlie Dekker)

In round three of the State Tournament, the Hornets would face off against the champions of section 2AA, Chanhassen. The Storm ended up knocking out Minnetonka, the defending State Champions, in their section final matchup to advance to the State Tournament. Many people anticipated a rematch of last years State Championship matchup between the Minnetonka Skippers and the Edina Hornets, but the Storm had other plans. The Storm this season are led by their top forward line which consists of senior, and Minnesota State commit, Jack Christ, senior and Minnesota State commit, Caden Lee, as well as senior, and Wisconsin commit, Gavin Uhlenkamp. The Storm also have heavy contributors on the defensive end in senior defenseman and University of St. Thomas commit, Owen Buesgens, as well as senior goalie, Kam Hendrickson, who has the best save percentage in the entire state.

Edina and Chanhassen line up on the blue line for the National Anthem. (Photo used with permission from Luke Schmidt)

The first period had everyone in the crowd on their feet with numerous chances for both teams, including a power play late in the period for the Storm. However, Hendrickson and Bertram were able to deny everything that came at them. The first period came to an end with a score of 0-0 and the shots being 10-9 in favor of Chanhassen. The second period is where the Storm appeared to take over the game. Chanhassen controlled the pace of play and dominated the Edina Hornets. The Storm were getting countless opportunities all period, but could not find a way to get the puck past Bertram. It was not until ten minutes and ten seconds into the second period where the Storm would finally put one past Bertram. Senior forward, Tyler Smith, was able to capitalize on a goal with assists coming from senior defenseman, Ben Curtis, and senior forward, Brayden Willis, giving the Storm a 1-0 lead.

Smith celebrates after taking the lead in the State Championship. (Photo used with permission from Luke Schmidt)

The Storm would continue to use this momentum gained from the goal to dominate the remainder of the period. Including,  gaining a power play just one minute and fifty nine seconds following the goal. However, Bertram again was able to deny everything that came his way and keep the Hornets within one goal of the Storm. The second period came to a close with a 1-0 lead for Chanhassen and the Storm outshooting the Hornets 14-5 for a two period total of 24-14 in favor of the Storm. The Hornets must have came together in the locker room in between periods and rallied because it only took three minutes and twelve seconds into the third period for the Hornets to even up the score. Junior defenseman, Robbie Hoch, was able to get his first point of the playoffs and it came at the best time, scoring the game-tying goal in the State Championship, with assists going to Pittsley and junior defenseman, Charlie Velner.

Hoch celebrates to bench after scoring the game-tying goal. (Photo used with permission from Luke Schmidt)

This goal from Hoch shifted the momentum of the game and the Hornets were able to gain a power play just thirty five seconds following the goal. Unfortunately for the Hornets, Hendrickson continued to stand tall and not let any of their chances past him. Following this power play, both teams were getting chances but could not find a way to score. After what seemed like numerous missed penalty calls from both teams, the Storm got called on a costly tripping call and granted the Hornets a power play with seven minutes and six seconds remaining in the game. The Hornets were not going to let another power play go to waste. It did not take long as Cowan scored his eight of the playoffs only eleven seconds into the power play with an assist from Dexheimer, giving the Hornets their first lead of the game.

Cowan celebrates towards the student section after scoring against Chanhassen. (Photo used with permission from Charlie Dekker)

This goal by the Hornets silenced the crowd as it appeared as if eighty percent of them were cheering for the Storm. Chanhassen would go on to get numerous chances with pucks just sitting in front of the net, but Bertram continued to turn down all of their opportunities. The clock continued to count down and eventually time ran out for the Storm. The Edina Hornets were able to hold onto their 2-1 lead despite being outshot again that period for a game total of 34-23 in favor of the Storm. With this victory, the Edina Hornets are once again rewarded as State Champions for the fourteenth time in school history.

Edina celebrates in front of their student section with the trophy. (Photo used with permission from Luke Schmidt)
Edina celebrates for their team photo after the award ceremony. (Photo used with permission from Luke Schmidt)
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About the Contributor
Baylor Stebbins, Journalist
Grade: Senior Activities: Soccer, Football, Hockey, and Track Name of Car: Bruce Favorite Artist: Zach Bryan Hobbies: Golfing and Fishing