Edina wins Class 2A state boys hockey title
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A pair of players who may not be well-known outside Edina hockey circles came up big Saturday night, lifting the Hornets to a state title.
Cullen Munson scored twice, Willie Benjamin stopped 25 shots and Edina beat Hill-Murray 4-2 Saturday night to win the Class 2A state boys hockey championship.
"They may fly under the radar for a lot of people, but they don't fly under the radar for us," Edina coach Curt Giles said. "We've got good, solid hockey players on all four lines, six defensemen and we have two strong goaltenders."
Connor Hurley, Dylan Malmquist and Andy Jordahl were the only Edina players to score double-digit goals this season, combining for 63 goals. The rest of the team had 60.
"A lot of teams will focus on that No. 1 line and try to shut them down, or at least minimize them," Giles said. "We have a lot of faith in all our kids -- it's nothing they haven't done all year for us. We just expect it from them."
Malmquist and Anthony Walsh also scored for the third-seeded Hornets (25-6-0). Parker Reno and Bo Brauer each had two assists in helping Edina earn its eighth title in school history.
"Scoring two goals is nice, but it's great to win," Munson said.
Josh French scored twice for the top-seeded Pioneers (27-3-1), who lost in the title game for the second straight season. Zach LaValle had two assists.
Munson, who had just seven goals entering the game, scored on a rebound late in the first period and again early in the second to give the Hornets a 3-1 lead.
Benjamin made sure the lead would stand. He reached back to the left post to deflect a rebound attempt midway through the second period and smothered the puck to thwart a 3-on-1 opportunity about 90 seconds later. Later he stuck out the right pad to stop LaValle after a scramble in front.
"There wasn't much talk about Willie this season," Giles said. "People kind of look past Willie a little and I think they made a mistake. Willie did some wonderful, wonderful things for us all year and as you saw tonight he won the championship for us. ... I think he's a very underrated goaltender."
Walsh made it a three-goal Edina lead late in the second period, scoring on a breakaway after knocking down a slapshot at the Hornets blue line. The Pioneers responded 47 seconds later when French scored on a wrist shot from in front.
"When we got momentum, we just couldn't get the scoreboard to change," Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner said.
French gave Hill-Murray a 1-0 lead 4:11 into the game when his harmless- looking backhand from below the left circle got past Benjamin and trickled into the net.
Malmquist responded about two minutes later with a power-play goal. The sophomore skated down the right side, cut in at the bottom of the right circle, shifted to his forehand and tucked the puck behind John Dugas. The Hill-Murray goaltender finished with 18 saves.
Edina pulled ahead at 11:56 when Dugas left a rebound in front as he stopped a slapshot by Reno. Munson controlled the puck in front, shifted to his forehand as he spun around and pushed the puck into an empty net for a 2-1 lead.
"I just want to do what I can to help the team," Munson said. ``I just focus on helping the team and doing my job."
Hill-Murray had a 52-second 5-on-3 power play late in the first period, but couldn't convert. The Pioneers also failed to score late in the game in a 6-on-4 situation when they pulled their goalie while on the power play.
"It was frustrating we couldn't break into the zone and get set up," forward Willie Brown said. "We couldn't get the puck moving around because they're a team that really forces it on their penalty kill, so we were panicky with the puck and we were just throwing it around."
In other play, Duluth East beat Wayzata 7-3 for third place, while Moorhead topped Eastview 5-2 for the consolation title.