Kyle Rau Wins Tourney for Eden Prairie

ST. PAUL, Minn. — When Eden Prairie met Duluth East in the finals of the boy's State Hockey Tournament, the groundwork was laid for a great game. What nobody could have a predicted was a three-overtime thriller, the longest in Tourney history. Gopher commit Kyle Rau ended the 2-2 tie in the third overtime with a diving swat at the puck that found the back of the net.

The matchup between top-ranked Eden Prairie and Duluth East looked like a great matchup on paper. Eden Prairie had been lighting the lamp at a feverish pace throughout the Tourney. They scored five goals in their opener against Lakeville North and then put up five more the next night against Eagan.

On the other side, Duluth East had been playing excellent defensive hockey. Despite giving up three goals to unseeded Apple Valley, the Greyhounds bounced back to hold powerhouse Edina to just one tally. The offensive flair of Eden Prairie was set to meet the defensive stopping power of Duluth East.

The first period of the championship game came and went without either team scoring a goal. Duluth East bottled up future Gopher Kyle Rau, not allowing him any space to move. The Eagles also played solid defense themselves, thanks to the play of Eden Prairie's defensive pairing of Nick Seeler and Dan Molenaar.

The second period saw a much more active Duluth East team. After a Joe Kerker checking from behind penalty, the Greyhounds hit paydirt on a goal by Trevor Olson. Eden Prairie had a few scoring chances in the second but they were squashed by the defense of Duluth East.

The third period started quickly with a rebound goal by Mark Rath of Eden Prairie to knot the score at one. Eight minutes later, Trevor Olson put in his second goal of the game to give the Greyhounds their second lead of the championship. It looked like Eden Prairie was going to go down as the period ticked away but with less than three minutes left in the game, David Rath put the puck away, tying the contest at two goals each.

With the teams tied at the end of regulation, they headed for overtime. This brought the second overtime championship game of the day after St. Thomas won the 1A championship this afternoon. With the crowd of over 15,000 on the edge of their seats, both teams took the ice to determine supremacy in Minnesota high school hockey. The first eight-minute and the second 17-minute overtime periods came and went with much of the action dictated by Eden Prairie. Both teams had their fair share of scoring chances but the Eagles controlled the puck and had more sustained time in their opponents' zone.

The game winner at 4:43 of the third overtime came on a shot by Curt Rau, Kyle's twin brother, that trickled through the legs of goalie JoJo Jeanetta, eventually settling in the crease. Kyle Rau saw the puck from the slot and took off at a dead sprint, diving for the puck before the Greyhound defender could knock it away. Rau got just enough of the puck to send it to the back of the net, cementing the 2A title for the Eagles while also winning the longest championship game in Tourney history.

Rau played an amazing tournament for Eden Prairie. He ended the weekend with five goals and two assists, earning him All-Tournament Team honors. Rau, a Mr. Hockey finalist, should give Gopher hockey fans something to cheer about in the coming years.

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories