Last year, I posted all of my high school hockey game reports as FanPosts, but I think they're a little friendlier towards Google if I put them on the main page. I'll hide them behing the jump though so that it doesn't clog up things too much for people that don't really care. If anyone else wants to write about a high school/juniors/college game they went to, they're more than welcome to post them in the FanPosts section.
Anyway, on Saturday, I hit a trifecta of games, starting with Orono taking on Breck, and then traveling down to the last day of the Edina Holiday Classic to see Elk River take on Grand Rapids and Edina take on Eden Prairie.
You can read about those games after the jump...
Orono vs. Breck
This was kind of a bust of a game. Orono isn't a super-strong program, but they're a pretty good Class A school that has been to the state tournament recently and can really test tough opponents. The only problem is that Breck probably shouldn't be considered a Class A school. This is the third year of varsity hockey for a lot of their players, and they're a really strong team.
Orono came out with pretty good jump and controlled play for the first couple of minutes, but Breck had way too much talent for them. Once the Mustangs scored their first goal, the next couple came pretty quickly afterwards. Each of their first three or four goals all came off of nice backdoor passes that the Orono goalie had no chance on. Breck led 5-0 after the first period, 11-1 after two periods, and finished with an easy 13-1 win.
It's tough to say too much about Breck's guys with such an easy win. Tyson Fulton had a really nice game with a bunch of beautiful assists. It was a rough game for Orono, but junior forward Ben Luedtke looked really good. He scored Orono's only goal on a beautiful shot, and rang another shot off the post. He's a kid that is flying under the radar and might be worth watching.
Elk River vs. Grand Rapids
This was a really good game that Elk River managed to just barely hang on and win 3-2. Elk River dominated the early part of the game and built a small lead, but Grand Rapids pretty much controlled the second half of the game. Ben Jaremko scored a breakaway goal in the third period to give Elk River a 3-1 lead, and while Grand Rapids cut it to 3-2, they came up just short of scoring the equalizer.
Elk River's top five guys can play with just about anybody, but they don't have a lot of depth. Their top forward line of Levi Lutz, Chad Hennum, and Ben Jaremko are really solid. I was especially impressed with Jaremko, who has to be one of the faster players in the state. His breakaway goal in the third period came a couple minutes after he had a serious collision with the goalpost on another rush up the ice. He's not the most talented kid, but he's fearless and works really hard.
Defensively, Elk River's top pairing of Ryan Jaremko and Kyle Orrock barely left the ice in the second half of the game while ER tried to hold onto their lead. Sophomore Taylor Bryan was on the other D pairing that rotated with Jaremko and Orrock and he didn't look out of place at all.
Grand Rapids isn't particular deep either, but they've got a nice mix of some really big, strong seniors like John Skrbec and Kyle Kleinedorst and some more skilled juniors like Patrick Moore and Christian Pearson. Pearson centered the second line, but played a really nice game, and got rewarded with two goals, including a nice old school backhander, which you don't see very often anymore. Sophmore Jordan Stejskal looked good on defensive as well.
Edina vs. Eden Prairie
This was the big game of the evening. It was quite an atmosphere with four-digit attendance and a couple of raucous student sections. Edina absolutely dominated the first two periods, building a 3-0 lead, and ended up holding off a late charge by Eden Prairie to win 5-3.
It was probably the first time in a couple years that Edina has come into a game as the underdog, and I think they really relished being the hunter rather than the hunted for once. They came out with way more jump and intensity than the Eagles, and really made a point of playing very physical and finishing every check. I don't think anybody has ever questioned the talent and depth at Edina, but they've never seemed to do those little things to give themselves the edge when it counted most.
A lot of people wrote Edina off after they lost so much talent from last year's team, but I think they proved that they have the ability to take it to any team in the state. For two periods, they absolutely shut down one of the state's top teams and made them look pretty bad. If they play with that type of fire and intensity when it counts, they may even be the best team in the state.
For as big as this game was, it was interesting how few scouts I saw there. All the scouts went to see Minnetonka take on St. Thomas and most of the top players from Eden Prairie and Edina won't be draft eligible for at least another year. Eden Prairie goalie Andrew Ford really stood out, keeping the game at least somewhat close for the first two periods while his team struggled. Goal may be the only area where I think Eden Prairie has an advantage over sectional rival Minnetonka. Eden Prairie's Dan Molenaar continues to look like one of the top juniors in the state.
The Hornets are a really deep team, with good players all over their roster. What's really impressed me most though is how solid goalie John Ankenny has been both times I've seen Edina. I thought goal has been a weakness for Edina the past couple of seasons and kept them from making it far as they would have liked, so getting solid play in goal is huge for them.