Minnetonka wins second-ever state title, beats rival Edina
The championship match was a close one, but the Skippers came out on top 2-1. The game-winning goal was scored by sophomore Ashton Schultz.
ST. PAUL — Minnetonka's Ashton Schultz scored midway through the third period to give the Skippers their second state boys hockey tournament title, beating Edina 2-1 in the Class AA championship Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
"It's unbelievable," said Minnetonka senior defender Liam Hupka. "We've put in so much work in the spring, in the fall, in the summertime, during the season, like, we put in so much work ... it feels so good to have it pay off."
"I'd say it's pretty bleeping awesome - I'll let you fill in the blank there," joked Skipper netminder Kaizer Nelson.
Minnetonka won its only previous title in 2018. It's the second time that the Skippers have faced off against Edina in the Class AA championship game. The Hornets previously met the Skippers in the 2010 title match, a day where Edina won 4-2, but now 13 years later, Minnetonka has avenged that loss.
Although Minnetonka came out with a 2-1 victory, Edina made it a close game and had a shot ring off both goalposts in the closing seconds of the game that could've tied things up for the Hornets.
"It's not your day sometimes, it is what it is," said Edina head coach Curt Giles.
"Our kids put our hearts and our souls into the entire season. In this game, they did the same as well. They played extremely well and they really played hard and sacrificed a lot of things," he added.
"The big thing is, what we try to do more so than anything is we try and produce good, productive, good young men - not hockey players," said Giles. "We don't come here to win championships, we don't come here just to do that."
Minnetonka's first goal was scored by Hagen Burrows. The junior forward shot a puck from below the goal line that bounced off the back of Edina netminder Robbie Clarkowski and into the net.
"The problem with a team like Minnetonka is you make one single mistake and they got enough kids that can finish it and get it done, so it's not one or two guys that can hurt you like that, they got half a dozen," said Giles.
Things were quiet in the second frame, but the Hornets tied things up just 27 seconds into the third period as junior Bobby Cowan tapped in a goal from just in front of the Minnetonka crease.
In the third, Schultz received a drop pass from teammate Robby House, deked around his opponents, and shot to score Minnetonka's the game-winning goal.
The problem with a team like Minnetonka is you make one single mistake and they got enough kids that can finish it and get it done.
"I saw him go down [an Edina defender] and then I saw open ice and I just took it," said Schultz on his game-winner. "Clean shot in the slot."
Edina came oh-so-close to tying the game up as the seconds ticked down. A Hornet skater shot on an extra-attacker opportunity and the puck hit both posts and didn't go in.
"I think our guys will tell you that's the toughest team we've played all year, and we've done it three times," said Minnetonka head coach Sean Goldsworthy.
Minnetonka defeated Edina officially three times in the 2022-23 season, 4-0 in January, 1-0 in February, and 2-1 in the state title game in March.
"We get through Hill-Murray on Thursday [in the quarterfinals], which is a really solid defensive team too, and then you got to figure out a way to beat Curt [Giles] and all that," he added. "We found a way to win a bunch of games in a row, I think is is our 20th in a row, which is ridiculous, because I usually go into the year thinking if you can just win 20 games total you're having an elite season."
"We're young, we're not an old team ... For us, it was more mental maturity as the year went on and I think we showed that we're mentally tough," said Goldsworthy.
The Skippers finish their season with a 29-2 overall record. Their only losses coming to the hands of Chanhassen and Wayzata.
MINNETONKA 2, EDINA 1
First period scoring — MTKA, Hagen Burrows (Gavin Garry, Javon Moore) 11:01 (pp)
Penalties — EDINA, Bobby Cowan (tripping) 9:43
Second period scoring — None
Penalties — MTKA, Jack Sand (tripping) 2:05
Third period scoring — EDINA, Bobby Cowan (unassisted) 0:27; MTKA, Ashton Schultz (Robby House) 8:25
Penalties — MTKA, Burrows (holding) 5:41; EDINA, Mike Mason (roughing) 5:41; MTKA, Burrows (tripping) 12:48
SOG: MTKA, 7-3-5—15; EDINA, 7-7-9—23
Goalie Saves: MTKA, Kaizer Nelson 7-7-8—22 (1GA); EDINA, Robbie Clarkowski 6-3-4—13 (2GA)
Penalties-minutes: MTKA, 3-6; EDINA, 2-4
Power-play goals-opportunities: MTKA, 1-1; EDINA, 0-2