With most sports on hold and the 2020-21 season still months out, it’s time to take a look at teams from all over the State of Hockey and examine what happened this past season and what’s ahead. The next team we’re breaking down is Eden Prairie.
How last season went
Coming off an overtime loss in the Class 2A state championship game against rival Edina, the Eagles hit the ice with a bevy of returning talent. That showed early as they won eight consecutive games to open the season. Eden Prairie hit some road blocks and lost its top spot in the Class 2A coaches’ poll it received at the beginning of the season but finished as the Lake Conference champion with a 19-5-1 regular season record.
Due to a poor performance against Prior Lake, the Eagles found themselves as the No. 2 seed in Section 2AA. After avoiding a colossal upset against Shakopee in the quarterfinals, Eden Prairie cruised past Minnetonka in the section semifinals. After the Lakers were upset by Chaska, the Hawks and Eagles met at 3M Arena at Mariucci to decide the section championship.
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, Eden Prairie held on and fended off a late Chaska rally and won 3-2 to head back to the Class 2A tournament.
The Eagles opened state tournament with a shutout victory against Lakeville South. Then, No. 3-seeded Eden Prairie got revenge against Blake after falling to the Bears during the regular season.
The Eagles made it back to the state final but could not overcome a red-hot Hill-Murray squad as the Pioneers cruised to a state championship victory.
Who’s back and who’s gone
Ben Steeves andcarried Eden Prairie’s top line all season but will not be there when the Eagles return next season. Both move on to college hockey after combining for 57 goals and 44 assists.
There are other returners who played key roles for the Eagles. Drew Holt is set to return after a 33-point season (11 goals, 22 assists).is also set to return as a force on the blue line after tallying 27 assists as a junior. The other big returner is Jackson Blake, who jumped into the third spot on Eden Prairie’s top line after missing half the season due to eligibility issues after transferring into the program from Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
In net,got the call during the Eagles’ biggest games and graduates after posting a .920 save percentage. Eli Andrews will likely take over the full-time role after playing 9 games this past season and posting a 1.67 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
What to expect next season
Falling in the state title game two consecutive seasons is a tough pill to swallow. But for the Eagles, it might be the motivation to finally get over the hump for the first time since 2011. Many Eden Prairie players will have multiple state tournaments under their belt. The window of opportunity appears open for next season. But beyond that, it’s tough to tell.