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Section Finals at Mariucci Recap

Most serious hockey fans in the Twin Cities will tell you that there is no better night of hockey in the area than the double-header section finals of Sections 2AA and 6AA and after two kind of down years, this year's installment at Mariucci Arena lived up to the hype.

Edina came back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period, scoring the game-winning goal with just over a minute left in the game to earn a trip back to St. Paul with a 3-2 win. The late game was even better, with Wayzata erasing a 3-1 deficit in the third period to send the game to overtime, before losing on a Kyle Rau goal deep into the second overtime period.

Edina vs. Burnsville

I would have liked to have seen Burnsville win this game, in part because they were the underdog(in this context, since a 2400-student HS hardly counts as a "little guy"), and because they have one of the best student sections in the state. But my gut feeling heading into this game was that Burnsville had the ability to keep a game close with anyone in the state, but didn't quite have the ability to pull out a win, and that's pretty much what happened.

The effect of playing on the big ice really slowed down the pace of the game. It was an interesting contrast in style of play though, with Edina generating their offense by getting the puck deep into the zone, cycling around, and getting shots that way, while Burnsville tried to counterattack by sending forwards streaking out of the zone as soon as they got possession of the puck and trying to generate odd-man rushes.

This game was really a coming out party for Lou Nanne, who I thought was one of the most impressive players on the ice. Steve Fogarty was good, but the bigger ice doesn't suit him as well. Heading to the CCHA is probably a better fit.

Wayzata vs. Eden Prairie

This was just a fantastic game. It was two really talented teams playing at a very level and it was an extremely competitive game with lots of great scoring chances both ways. I thought the big key for Wayzata coming in was to get some production out of their second line, and to have their goalie play really well. Neither of those happened, but it's perhaps a credit to how good Wayzata's top line was that despite that, Wayzata still had multiple extremely close chances that could have won them the game.

I thought Wayzata had the advantage for much of the game, especially when their top line was out. Technically Wayzata outscored Eden Prairie 4-2 in regulation, Wayzata just happened to score one of those goals in their own net.(The big ice surface didn't affect the pace as much in this game because it was so fast, but both teams really struggled with the weird corners on the bigger ice, including on the own goal.) But as the overtime dragged on, I thought that really played to Eden Prairie's advantage since they were the much deeper team.

On the Mr. Hockey front, I thought this game would end playing a big factor in the decision between Kyle Rau and Tony Cameranesi. Cameranesi probably had the better game, but he only had a single assist. Rau probably wrapped up the award by scoring the game-winning goal in the biggest pre-State Tournament game of the year.