Defending boys' hockey big-school champion Benilde-St. Margaret's moved a step closer to a return to the state tournament, defeating Eden Prairie 5-3 in the Class 2A, Section 6 semifinal Saturday at Bloomington Ice Garden.
The Red Knights (22-5), the section's top-seeded team proved too much for the fourth-seeded Eagles (13-13-1). Benilde-St. Margaret's advanced to Wednesday's section final, where it will face Wayzata at Mariucci Arena.
Spencer Naas scored a power-play goal about 5 1/2 minutes into the third period, a goal that gave the Red Knights a 4-2 lead.
"It looked like a little bit of a scramble," Benilde-St. Margaret's coach Ken Pauly said. "All I saw was the light go on and our sticks go up.
"When you get that two-goal cushion in the third [period], that was huge."
T.J. Moore, who opened the scoring for the Red Knights, also ended Eden Prairie's comeback hopes with his second goal of the game, an empty-netter with about 30 seconds left to play.
"Unbelievable game," Moore said. "Super competitive all over the ice, and it was definitely relieving to get out of this game with our season still alive."
Play got physical in the final period, and the Eagles spent six minutes of it killing a trio of minor penalties. That physical play depleted Eden Prairie's energy, Eagles coach Lee Smith said, which made the comeback attempt even more difficult.
"Then we don't have the energy to score at the end when we needed it," Smith said.
Wayzata 5, Minnetonka 1: Jalen Wahl's hat trick in the second semifinal propelled the Trojans (20-7) past the Skippers (19-7-1) and into Wednesday's section final.
Wahl opened the scoring in the first period. He stretched to keep the puck in the Trojans' offensive zone and, after a few slick passes, scored the period's only goal.
Minnetonka seemed to dominate the second period but could not tie the score. The Skippers had a goal waved off with just less than five minutes to go in the period, as the referee had already blown his whistle before the puck slowly trickled into the net.
Wahl stretched the Trojans' lead to 2-0 in the second period and completed his hat trick on a third-period power play.
Wayzata's Aaron Dingmann made 31 saves.
Derek Wetmore is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment with the Star Tribune.