Carter Batchelder scored 6:58 into overtime to complete a hat trick and lift No. 1 Eden Prairie to a 6-5 victory over No. 4 Maple Grove in an epic Class 2A semifinal Friday night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The game was a back-and-forth tilt for the ages in which goals didn’t go unanswered until the end and both teams pulled out all the stops to find the back of the net.
There were five lead changes in regulation and a wild 99-second stretch late in the third period where every shot attempt by both teams somehow found its way into the back of the net.
With the game knotted at 3-3, Batchelder finished off a perfect tic-tac-toe entry play at 11:32 of the third with a laser from the circle.
Maple Grove punched back when Chris Kernan sent a one-timer just inside the post 76 seconds later.
In the end, Eden Prairie’s top line proved to be too much for Maple Grove (21-2). Batchelder’s game-winner capped a four-point night for the Colorado College commit. Holt had four points of his own (1g-3a) and North Dakota-bound Jackson Blake figured into all six Eagles goals (1g-5a).
The win gives the Eagles (19-1-2) their third consecutive berth in the Class 2A championship game, where they’ll try to avenge losses to Edina (2019) and Hill-Murray (2020) tomorrow vs. No. 3 Lakeville South at 8 p.m.
In a heavyweight fight, the knockout punch is always the highlight.
With the teams trading blows in overtime, Eden Prairie’s top line did what it does and delivered the haymaker.
Blake pressured and forced a loose puck. Holt picked it out of a Maple Grove defender’s skates, turned to find a wide-open Batchelder backdoor and put the puck on a tee for him to send into an open net.
1. Carter Batchelder, Eden Prairie - The state tournament veteran was electric on Friday night, scoring three times and generating another handful of great chances for the Eagles.
2. Jackson Blake, Eden Prairie and Drew Holt, Eden Prairie - Batchelder stole the headlines, but the supporting cast of Blake and Holt were equally as impressive in the semifinal thriller. Blake had six - yes, six - points while Holt chipped in four of his own to give the Eagles top unit a staggering 14 appearances on the scoresheet.
3. Mason Langenbrunner, Eden Prairie - The mobile blueliner scored a power-play goal, added an assist and was extremely impressive defensively. The game was a shootout, but the Harvard commit and Boston Bruins draft pick controlled the game from the back end, providing plenty of poise when things easily could have spiraled out of control for Eden Prairie.
Top-seeded Eden Prairie will once again play for the Class 2A state championship tomorrow when it squares off with No. 3 Lakeville South.