ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Kyle Rau had a gaping gash on his chin and blood smeared across his jaw and neck, gifts from a physical Duluth East defense that beat him up like no other team has done this season.
Totally worth it.
“It feels great. I’ll be feeling it in the morning, but it’s so worth it,” the Eden Prairie star said. “I’ll have a scar I’ll always remember.”
Rau’s incredible diving goal with 3:17 to play in triple overtime lifted Eden Prairie to a 3-2 victory over Duluth East in the Class 2A boys’ state championship game on Saturday night, the longest title game in the event’s illustrious history.
Andrew Ford had 29 saves and Mark Rath and David Rath also scored for the top-seeded Eagles (23-5-2), who won their second state title in three years.
Trevor Olson scored twice and JoJo Jeanetta made 27 saves for third-seeded Duluth East (23-6-0), which was looking for its third championship and first since 1998.
“It’s tough to watch kids lay it on the line like that,” East coach Mike Randolph said. There had to be a winner and there had to be a loser. Eden Prairie deserves a lot of credit. They had a target on them from Day One. We zeroed in on it ourselves, and the best player in high school hockey scored the winner.”
The Eagles won it late in the third overtime when Curt Rau’s shot from the point trickled through Jeanetta’s legs and stopped in the crease. Kyle Rau dived and hit the puck, which bounced off East defenseman Andrew Kerr’s skate and into the net.
“I just wanted the game to be over with,” Curt Rau said. “End of third and into overtime, we were all dying, all of the boys. I was hoping it would have gone in by myself, but it’s good that my brother got it.”
Jeanetta, who played so spectacularly against Eden Prairie’s vaunted offense the entire game, remained bent over in the net in disbelief.
It was Rau’s fifth goal of the tournament, but this one came after 81 minutes of being held without a point. It was Kerr who leveled him with two big checks earlier in the final period, but Rau never gave up, and neither did his teammates.
“It probably was one of the best games ever,” Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith.
The Greyhounds led 2-1 with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. That’s when Mark Rath swept a rebound past Jeanetta to tie the game and send it into overtime.
The Greyhounds made the powerful Eagles earn this one. Eden Prairie steamrolled into the title game having won its first two games in the tournament by a combined score of 10-1.
Duluth East, on the other hand, was more than comfortable in extra time. The Greyhounds needed overtime to win their previous three tournament games, including the section final over Grand Rapids, a double-OT win over White Bear Lake in the state quarterfinals and a 2-1 overtime win over defending champion Edina in the semifinals on Friday.
The game was marked by physical play throughout, but the Eagles got a little too rough in the second period, and it got them in trouble. Joe Kerker got a two-minute penalty and a 10-minute game misconduct for checking from behind when he drilled Dom Toninato in the back.
It was the first power play of the game, and it didn’t take the Greyhounds long to cash in. Moving the puck with the patience and poise of professionals, Jake Randolph slipped a pass through the crease to Olson, who buried the one-timer for a 1-0 lead 20 seconds after Kerker went to the box.
East could’ve had a two-goal cushion on its second power play of the game were it not for two incredible saves by Nick Seeler, who isn’t even a goalie for Eden Prairie. More pinpoint passing from the Greyhounds opened up two more wide open nets with Ford unable to get across the crease in time. But each time, Seeler dived in front of the puck to thwart the chance.
That allowed the Eagles to stay in the game, and they tied it up early in the final period when Rath pounced on a rebound that came off of a rush from Luc Gerdes.
Olson responded with his second goal of the game, this one a wrist shot from the left circle that fluttered in high on Ford. The goaltender hit it with his blocker, but it rolled up over his head and across the goal line before David Rath could dive and knock it out.
Jeanetta controlled the game all night, but a scrum in front of the net ensued after his kick save, and he didn’t get a good look at the puck when Mark Rath sent it past him to send the game to OT.
“You couldn’t ask for more from a team,” coach Randolph said. “They just battled, battled, battled and never quit. We’re the losers, but we’re not really losers. We played a great game.”
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