ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Two months ago, Eden Prairie was beaten in overtime by Duluth East. On Saturday, they’ll get a shot to even things up on a much bigger stage.
Kyle Rau scored two goals and Eden Prairie secured its spot in the title game of the Class 2A state boys hockey tournament with a 5-1 win over Eagan on Friday night. Luc Gerdes and Nick Seeler and Ben Boldenow also scored for the top-seeded Eagles (23-5-2).
The Greyhounds (24-5-0) beat Edina 2-1 in overtime in the other semifinal.
“We lost to Eagan before and now we got them back, so, it’ll be kind of a revenge game,” Seeler said.
“We’ve been playing pretty well and we just got to keep it going tomorrow,” Rau added.
Leading 2-0 after the first period, Rau scored a power play goal 22 seconds into the middle frame. Seeler sent a pass to David Rath low in the left circle, and Rath quickly fired a pass across the crease to Rau for a tap-in.
“We wanted to come out and jump them early and get the lead,” Rau said. “We did that and then we tried not to let them back in the game. We kept pouncing.”
Three minutes later, Des Shavlik sent a pass to Rau in the crease. The senior center lifted the puck over a fallen Tommy Bodeker and into the Eagan net for a 4-0 lead.
Rau, who had two goals in Thursday’s quarterfinal win, has 40 goals this season and is the favorite to be named the state’s Mr. Hockey on Sunday. Numerous “Mr. Hockey” chants came from the Eden Prairie rooting sections during the game.
“Yeah, I hear them,” Rau said, smiling.
Derick Kuchera scored in the third period for Eagan (21-7-2), but it wasn’t nearly enough against an Eagles squad that dominated from the start.
“They had good intensity and kept it up for 51 minutes,” said Eagan coach Mike Taylor. “They always had more support on the puck, moved the puck crisper. That’s all a lack of intensity to me. We didn’t match that. … It’s the state semis, you gotta show up.”
Eden Prairie, 9-0-1 in its last 10 games, held Eagan to just 15 shots, including two in the second period and five in the third.
“We just wanted to close the gaps and not give them a whole lot of scoring opportunities,” Seeler said. “They got that one in the third, but other than that it was a really solid defensive game.”
Boldenow’s goal was the first of the year for the third-line center.
“It’s really special, especially coming in the semifinal of the state tournament. You dream of that as a little kid and to actually have it happen is a dream come true,” he said.
Winning a state title also crossed a few minds while growing up.
“I know they’ve had a target on their back for a long time and they’ve handled it really well,” said coach Lee Smith. “I know none of them are looking past Duluth East tomorrow. … It should be a real exciting final for the fans.”
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