Defending Class 2A champion Edina grinded out a 3-1 victory against Eagan in Friday's late Class 2A boys' hockey semifinal.
Edina, winner of 11 state championships, advanced to play No. 2 seed Lakeville North in Saturday's championship game. The Hornets will try to win consecutive large-school titles for the first time since Bloomington Jefferson captured three from 1992-94.
Dylan Malmquist was credited with a Hornets goal only 1 minute, 52 seconds into the game. His shot was saved by Wildcats goaltender Andrew Lindgren, but teammate Taylor Karel inadvertently swept the puck over the goal line on a clearing attempt.
Garrett Wait beat Lindgren clean on a goal with only 11 seconds remaining in the second period to provide an emotional lift.
"It was just crazy in the locker room after that," Wait said.
Edina's 2-0 lead held until Jack Jenson scored for Eagan with 46 seconds remaining. An answering empty-net goal from Malmquist sealed the outcome with 15.6 seconds to play.
After spotting Edina (23-4-1) a lead, Eagan (19-9-1) did a solid defensive job. Senior defenseman Nick Wolff, a Mr. Hockey Award finalist, was a constant, menacing presence. He jarred opposing players and defused scoring chances all while logging a ton of ice time.
"Edina is a good team and we knew we had to work our butts off," Wolff said.
Malmquist, taking advantage of a rare clear shooting lane, fired and was denied by Lindgren's glove.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats struggled against Edina's depth and speed. Content to chip pucks out of the zone, Eagan rarely mounted a crisp offensive charge.
"We tried to keep the pressure on them because it's a long way to go when you've got to come out of your defensive zone," Edina coach Curt Giles said.
The Wildcats' best chance came with one second remaining in the first period when Ian Entzion rang the post on the power play.