Eden Prairie sophomore Casey Mittelstadt, who verbally committed to the Gophers before ever playing a varsity shift, justified the attention with two huge goals Wednesday at Mariucci Arena.
Mittelstadt scored both Eagles goals in a 2-1 overtime victory over Minnetonka in the Class 2A, Section 6 championship game.
He staked Eden Prairie to a 1-0 first period lead after carrying the puck into the Skippers' zone and scoring unassisted. In overtime, he sent a pass from Nolan Sullivan into the net to clinch the Eagles' second consecutive section title.
"As a sophomore the game seems easy for him at times," Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said.
The past few days have been anything but easy for the Eagles, who competed without three key players who were suspended after a fight in the section semifinals against Benilde-St. Margaret's. But an ability to regroup made the team strong enough to succeed.
"Everybody here trusts all our teammates," Mittelstadt said. "We play as a team."
Minnetonka, which beat Eden Prairie two out of three times this season, tied the game 1-1 at 6:57 of the second period. Maxwell Cavanaugh sent a puck across the top of the crease for Dominic Picciano to slap into the net.
A Skippers' chance hit the pipe at the end of regulation.
"We're just not the most dynamic offensive team and you've got to score more than one goal," Minnetonka coach Brian Urick said.
Edina 10, Burnsville 1: Even after a nine-goal victory earned his team a ninth-consecutive state tournament trip, Edina coach Curt Giles maintained, "I still think we can play better."
If not their coach, Hornets' players certainly made believers out of Burnsville. The two-time defending Class 2A state tournament champions exploded for three goals less than seven minutes into the game. They tallied another four in the second period to effectively decide this championship game.
"They outskated us today and we couldn't find an answer, Burnsville coach Janne Kivihalme said.
Goals from senior forwards Matt Masterman, Parker Mismash and Henry Bowlby built a 3-0 lead for the Hornets (24-1-2).
"If you've got an opportunity to score some goals early, kids get confident, they get comfortable and they get moving," Giles said.
Burnsville's Andy Schoen scored shorthanded to cut the Hornets' lead to 3-1 later in the first period. The Blaze (15-11-2) threatened to get closer on a power play early in the second period. But Edina senior goalie Kobi Boe shut the door.
"Kobi is a wall back there," said Paul Meyer, Hornets senior defenseman who finished with a hat trick.
Edina maintained its recent mastery of Burnsville, winning for the 14th time in 15 meetings and improving to 5-0 in section final showdowns since the 2006-07 season.