EDINA - Chanhassen junior Gavin Uhlenkamp doesn’t so much wear skates as he does jetpacks. Uhlenkamp generates so much offense with his silky skating stride it should, in the opinion of would-be defenders, be registered as a lethal weapon. Uhlenkamp’s on-ice miles-per-hour is so great that breaking the sound barrier doesn’t just seem attainable, it’s on his bucket list.
Funny thing about all that speed — Uhlenkamp didn’t need any of it to score the biggest goal in Storm history on Saturday against Eden Prairie.
Overtime games in the playoffs are a mucker’s and grinder’s delight. You know, shoot from anywhere and crash the net. See the puck, whack the puck. Repeat as necessary.
Uhlenkamp strayed a bit from the shoot, shoot, shoot overtime playbook in No. 1 seed Chanhassen’s 2-1 Section 2AA semifinal triumph over the No. 5 Eagles at Braemar Arena, but let’s just say his intentions came from a good place on his winning goal.
“You know, I was just trying to deflect it off Jack Christ’s stick and they poked it and it went in five-hole,” said Uhlenkamp, who was stationed near the left face-off dot when he fired his shot-pass through the crease toward his linemate. “I’m not sure what it hit, but we’ll take it.”
The puck glanced off No. 19-2A Eden Prairie (13-13-1) forward Mason Moe’s stick and took a hard left turn about half way to its intended target. Eagles goaltender Isaiah Paulnock had little time to react to the change in trajectory, and the puck sailed between his legs an instant before he could close his feet.
Chanhassen goaltender Kam Hendrickson said if he was asked before the game to pick one player from the Storm to score a winning goal in section semifinal, “It would be that guy right there,” he said, pointing at a grinning Uhlenkamp.
“I mean, he's just a dog,” Hendrickson said. “He puts his nose down, his head down and grinds. That's what I enjoy about him in practice, his compete. And it sort of transfers to the games, which is so much fun to see.”
The victory extended a historic season for No. 2-2A Chanhassen (24-3-0). The Storm’s 9-0 quarterfinal victory over Bloomington Jefferson on Tuesday was the first postseason win in the program’s 13-year history. Now, with every win, they break new ground.
“These guys have all been in big moments before,” Chanhassen coach Sean Bloomfield said in reference to his players’ decorated youth hockey careers. “They’ve done deep playoff runs. Just because the program hasn’t done it, these guys believe and understand they can do it.”
No one believes more than Uhlenkamp. While many of his teammates, with the exception of the unflappable Hendrickson, displayed some understandable third-period jitters, Uhlenkamp said he wasn’t nervous at all. Not a bad player performing at his calm, collected best. Uhlenkamp, a Wisconsin commit, shares the team lead in points with 45.
“What’s making him better and better and better is learning how to pace things, too,” Bloomfield said. “It’s not just skate yourself down into the corner with a ton of speed. Allow your teammates to catch up, too. And then you can make good things happen.”
EDINA - Chanhassen added another program first in a season filled with milestones on Saturday when it beat Eden Prairie 2-1 in overtime at Braemar Arena to advance to a section championship game for the first time in program history.
Junior forward Gavin Uhlenkamp one-timed a shot that deflected off an Eden Prairie defenseman for the winning goal 2:37 into the extra period. The No. 1-seeded Storm had never won a playoff game in the program’s 12-year history before beating Bloomington Jefferson 9-0 on Tuesday.
Chanhassen (24-3-0) advances to play No. 2 seed Minnetonka (25-2-0) in the section title game on Thursday night at Braemar Arena.
Caden Lee opened the scoring in the second period, his power-play goal giving the No. 2-2A Storm a 1-0 lead with 2:23 left in the period.
No. 5 seed Eden Prairie (13-13-1) dominated play for much of the third period, outshooting Chanhassen 16-8 and getting a power-play goal from Dylan Vornwald with 6:11 remaining in regulation.