Mound West/Tonka has a good team this year period. Throw out the AA/A designation. It is not supposed to mean anything during regular season anyway. The Whitehawks along with Blaine AA, Orono, MAML, and Brainerd AA have improved since the start of the season. So have a number of other teams. It is what should happen.
In the finals of the Edina Peewee A Invitational, the improving Whitehawks ran into an improving Edina A team. The Hornets had demolished their competition in the early tourney games. But it is kids playing hockey, anything can happen.
In the championship game, the Whitehawks came to play, the Hornets showed up. To Edina’s credit, they won the game 3-2, but they had a few angels on their shoulders in the game played Tuesday at Braemar Ice Arena.
After a slow start to the game, Mound West/Tonka took it the Hornets in the first period. They basically locked them up in the Hornets’ zone and their defense beat them in the neutral zone. They outshot the Hornets 9-6 for the period. Most of the Hornet shots were not tough shots except one shot.
It was delivered by an improving Andy Kromer. The Whitehawks were on a 5-on-3 power play and retrieving the puck in the Mound West/Tonka zone, when Kromer swooped into the Whitehawks defenders in the right corner, took the puck away, cut to the inside and attacked the net. He scored on a high shot to the left corner. The shot was so hard and quick that it froze the goalie.
It was the only goal scored in the first period. The Hornets survived the 5-on-3 penalty, keeping the Whitehawks off the board. The first period ended with Edina leading 1-0.
The second period opened with Edina on the power play. A minute into the penalty, Whitehawk forward John Simon caught the Edina defense off guard at the Edina blue line, knocked the puck forward, beat the defender and scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game 1-1. The crowd erupted. Clearly they favored the perceived underdog, Mound West/Tonka.
In the adjoining rinks, the Edina AA and A bantam teams were winning their semifinal games in their respective invitational tourney and fans of teams waiting to go on the ice showed up. They were rooting for one Edina team to lose.
It is an Edina thing.
Tied 1-1 halfway through the period, the Whitehawks struck again. This time the Mound West/Tonka players worked in unison successively beating Edina in three races to the puck along the left sideboards in the Edina zone. The third race resulted in Michael Uhas taking the puck towards the Edina net. Uhas fired from the faceoff dot area and beat the goalie on the right side to give the Whitehawks a 2-1 lead. The crowd erupted.
The third period was a story of tripping penalties. Late in the second period, Mound West/Tonka drew a tripping penalty. Edina started the third period on a penalty kill. They set up in the Whitehawks’ zone and worked the puck to the lower right corner. The Hornet forward had room to maneuver. He charged the net and did a slight fake as if to pass. The goalie overreacted and started to move toward the top of the crease. The Hornet fired the puck into the goalie’s pad. The puck bounced off the pads and into the net to tie the game 2-2.
The crowd was now pensive.
Two minutes later, Mound West/Tonka pulled another tripping penalty. Edina scored the winning goal on the power play, this time off a rush with the puck on the right, a pass to the weak side, and a tip in goal. It was a classic Edina scoring play. That ended the scoring 3-2. Mound West/Tonka had chances to score late in the third period, but just couldn’t hit the net.
The disappointed crowd returned to watch the other Edina teams winning.
It was a good hockey game between two good teams. With Mound West/Tonka coming out of District 3 and the West Regional this year; and with Edina coming out of District 6 and the East Regional this year, these two teams could meet in the opening round of the Peewee A state tourney.