Minnetonka girls’ hockey coach Eric Johnson did not mince words with his players before Tuesday night’s game against Wayzata at Minnetonka’s Pagel Activity Center.
“Going in he said, ‘This is a playoff-type atmosphere,’ ” Skippers defenseman Kelsey Crow said. “He calls it making the best cookie — putting out our best effort.”
Top-ranked Minnetonka edged the third-ranked Trojans 4-3 in overtime. Crow scored the game-winner on the power play with only 49.7 seconds remaining in the extra period. Wayzata (12-1-1) forced overtime as Kaitlyn Klein completed the hat trick with 9.4 seconds left in regulation.
Swatting at a loose puck, Crow said, was instinctual bordering on robotic. But the excitement shown by the junior and her victorious teammates was real. Both Lake Conference teams came into the game unbeaten, and both teams hope to reap rewards later in the season.
The Skippers (10-0) are pursuing additional greatness this winter after becoming the first program to win three consecutive Class 2A titles. Tuesday’s close loss strengthens Wayzata’s case as a team to watch in Section 6. The Trojans edged Hopkins 1-0 on Dec. 14 and tied Benilde-St. Margaret’s 3-3 on Nov. 21.
“This will help us a lot,” Klein said. “We knew they were good but we stayed in it to the end.”
Minnetonka went ahead less than two minutes into the game on Katie McMillan’s goal. Crow made it 2-0 early in the second period. Klein cut the lead to 2-1 but Minnetonka’s Presley Norby restored a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
Klein, who scored twice in the third period, said taking favored Minnetonka to the brink helped reinforce her team’s relentless identity.
“Until that buzzer goes off, we’re going as hard as we can no matter what the score is,” Klein said.
Minnetonka improved its winning streak to 22 games dating back to last season. The Skippers’ last loss? A 3-2 overtime defeat by Wayzata.
“It came down to someone making the big play and Kelsey did,” Minnetonka defenseman Sydney Baldwin said.