Max Elsenheimer experienced a season of change, from breaking in new linemates to redefining his own game.
Content, as coach Mike Taylor put it, "to blaze down the sides and try to snipe the puck," Elsenheimer is "now putting pucks on the net from everywhere and getting goals."
A senior forward who tallied only six goals during the regular season, Elsenheimer scored a goal in all three section playoffs games and produced his first multi-goal game of the season Thursday.
Those goals fueled No. 5 Eagan's 3-0 victory against No. 4 Duluth East in the Class 2A boys' hockey quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center.
Wildcats senior defenseman Nick Wolff set up the first goal, gathering the puck along the boards near the top of the circle and firing. Elsenheimer was credited with the tip as Eagan went ahead with two seconds remaining in the second period.
Defenseman Tommy Muck helped preserve Eagan's slim lead by whisking away a puck that got behind goaltender Andrew Lindgren early in the third period.
Elsenheimer struck again in the third with a remarkable effort. A lane opened in front of the net for Elsenheimer but he could not get a shot off. Taking the puck behind the net, he turned and fired from a sharp angle and got the puck over goaltender Gunnar Howg's shoulder.
The Wildcats (19-9-1) led 2-0 at 6:34 of the period and continued nullifying the attack of Duluth East (21-7-1).
Eagan set up a rematch in Friday's semifinals with Edina. The Wildcats won 2-1 on Dec. 7.
DAVID LA VAQUE