Friday, March 09, 2007

Grand Rapids 3 Edina 1

On paper, it looked like an upset. On the ice, it was anything but. Unseeded Grand Rapids(18-7-4), with a senior-heavy roster that made it to last year’s state championship game defeated Class AA #1 seed Edina(25-3-1) 3-1 in the first round of the state tournament.

“When we drew the number one seed, a lot of people were disappointed up in Grand Rapids, but our team, personally, looked at it as a big test. We knew that if we could beat the number one seeded team in the tournament, we could beat anyone. I think we’ve proved ourselves now,” said senior forward Pat White.

Grand Rapids got off to an early lead when White, a finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award, bounced off two checks and fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Edina goaltender Derrick Caschetta.

Grand Rapids was able to use their experienced defense, and stellar goaltending to shut down the Edina offense. Senior goalie Reidar Jensen finished the game with 28 saves, including a spectacular save on Edina’s Matt Leer off of a one-timer while Grand Rapids was shorthanded in the second period.

“Our coach always tells us that defense wins championships. We’ve got a star goalie back there, standing on his head, and winning us hockey games,” said White.

Grand Rapids extended their lead in the third period when Pat White poked a rebound from a Zach Morse shot past Caschetta. Brett Cone added an insurance goal with a pretty shot to the top shelf at 10:40 of the period.

“The second goal took the pressure off our shoulders a little, but I’d definitely say the third goal did even moreso. I don’t feel too confident sometimes with a two goal lead. I didn’t want us to sit back and just try and play good defense,” said White.

While Edina’s offense was kept quiet most of the night, their talented line of sophomores was able to strike late. Marshal Everson fired a shot on Jensen, which was kicked away, but Gaarder was able to score on the rebound. But it was too little, too late for the Hornets, and while they pressured the Grand Rapids goal, they weren’t able to close the gap.

“Experience is what gets you through games like this,” said Jensen. “Last year definitely helped us [tonight].”

Grand Rapids win means that they will advance to the state semifinals on Friday to play Burnsville, who beat Blaine later in the evening.