Last team standing wins.
In a marathon game that saw star players from both teams exit with injuries and trainers on both sides working furiously to get them back on the ice, Nick Poehling’s power-play goal at 8:26 of the second overtime allowed second-seeded Lakeville North to topple No. 3 seed Eden Prairie 5-4 in the semifinals of the state boys’ Class 2A hockey tournament and allow the Panthers (24-4-1) to reach the state championship game for the first time in the program’s history.
“For Lakeville North right now, every step forward we take is a first,” third-year Panthers coach Trent Eigner said. “It takes a special group of kids to forge a new path.”
A shot from the point glanced off a stick in the direction of Poehling, who raced to the puck from the right faceoff circle and whipped in a shot in before Eden Prairie goaltender Jake Gerdes could slide across the crease.
“In overtime you are just trying to get a puck on net,” Poehling said. “Any shot can go in. And that one went in.”
The game’s drama extended well beyond the multiple overtimes, Poehling’s clutch goal and Lakeville North’s historic tourney run. Eden Prairie (18-8-3) defenseman and Mr. Hockey finalist Luc Snuggerud, already playing with a broken hand and in the midst of a superb performance, exited in the second overtime with leg cramps. He did not return.
“He was coming off the ice wailing and trying to find enough energy to play,” Eden Prairie coach lee Smith said about Snuggerud, who at one point toppled over the boards and fell backwards into the Eagles’ bench area.
Fellow Eagles Mr. Hockey finalist Steven Spinner, who scored twice on rocket shotsjust under the crossbar, blocked a shot in the neck early in the first overtime. He returned for the start of the second OT after receiving treatment.
The injury report wasn’t much better for Lakeville North. Standout senior forward Tristen Hazlett exited late with a knee injury. Defenseman Jack McNeely also was hurt in the second overtime.
“You guys watched it, for both sides, it kind of turned into a MASH unit out there late,” Eigner said.