By Trey Cavello ’17 Photo: John Grunow
Fire hockey made their first-ever Section 2AA Championship appearance on Wednesday night at Mariucci Arena. The Fire ranked 5th in the state, faced off with Eden Prairie, ranked 1st in the state and carrying a 14 game winning streak.
The team was seeking revenge for elimination last season in a hard-fought semifinal against Eden Prairie. Going into the game, Ben Almquist said, “We need to score on our chances and play strong defensively. We also need to stick to our system.”
The Eagles struck first midway through the first period when Spencer Rudrud found the net for EP. The Fire, however, were quick to respond when junior Joe Hankison tied the game on an unassisted even-strength goal.
Eden Prairie then took a penalty with around 12 minutes left in the second period. Senior Nick Michel deflected a shot from Matt Anderson into the net to give the Fire a power play goal and a 2-1 lead, sending Holy Family fans into a frenzy. Eden Prairie responded quickly when Casey Mittelstadt tied the game 9:23 into the second period.
After a scary moment, when Fire captain Matt Anderson was checked from behind and slid head-first into the boards, a 5-minute major penalty was assessed to Eden Prairie. It was divided into the second and third periods, giving the Fire a huge opportunity. It took the team a few minutes to capitalize, but Senior Mack Byers scored on an assist from Ben Almquist 30 seconds before the penalty expired, to give Holy Family a 3-2 lead.
Once again, the Eagles battled back from a deficit, scoring two unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead. With time running out, Eden Prairie took a penalty, giving the Fire an opportunity to pull their goalie and pressure the Eagles with a 6 on 4 for the final minute of the game. The team peppered the Eden Prairie goalie with shots, and hit a post with moments remaining, but were unable to tie the game before time expired.
Holy Family finished what is undoubtedly their most successful season in school history. They defeated some of the best programs in the state, made it to their first-ever section championship game, and won another conference championship in decisive fashion.
If not for their placement in the challenging Section 2AA, the team’s chances of a State Tournament appearance might have improved considerably. Regardless, the team left an impression on the Minnesota hockey community by taking the #1 ranked Eagles, winners of 4-straight section championships, to the wire in an intense game at Mariucci.
The Holy Family community and hockey program says goodbye to an amazing group of seniors and looks forward to more exciting seasons to come.
To see a slideshow of the game, check out the images by student photojournalists Claire Melander and John Grunow and their Section Final Slideshow.
This story was originally published in our schools online newspaper, The Phoenix.