Though only a sophomore, Edina forward Dylan Malmquist is a two-year varsity veteran well-versed in his team's rivalry with Eden Prairie.
Malmquist understood the Eagles, despite an unimpressive record, would yield little to the fourth-ranked Hornets.
"We're rivals and every time we play them, we know they are going to give us their best," Malmquist said.
With the teams tied after two periods, Malmquist got the game-winning goal in a 5-4 Edina triumph that required every bit of the Hornets' skill.
The teams traded first-period punches at the Eden Prairie Community Center. Edina (16-4) twice took a one-goal lead only to see Eden Prairie answer each time with power-play goals. The Eagles' Andrew Knudsen tied the score 2-2 and redeemed his failed penalty shot opportunity.
No. 13 Eden Prairie (9-10-1) took its only lead of the game as Mason Bergh scored in the second period to put the Eagles ahead 3-2. Goals from Hayden Anderson and Andy Jordahl restored a 4-3 Edina lead.
But the Eagles' strong special teams play continued. With his team shorthanded, Colton Schmidt got the puck around an Edina defenseman, and fired a puck high over goaltender Willie Benjamin with 39.4 seconds remaining in the second period.
"It was a great energy goal," Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said.
While the Eagles were soaring, Edina did some soul-searching.
"Our coach came in and told us to forget about it and to come out in the third period and get a big hit or do something quick to get momentum back," Malmquist said.
Jordahl passed to Connor Hurley, who "faked their defense and pretty much gave me a one-on-one with their goalie," said Malmquist, who won the battle with his 14th goal of the season.
Thursday was Eden Prairie's fifth consecutive game against teams ranked in the top 15 of Class 2A, a tough stretch during a trying season. But Smith valued his team's effort on Thursday more than the outcome.
"I thought we played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart," Smith said, "I don't think our kids should have been denied but Edina's got a good hockey team."