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Edina's Robbie Clarkowski stellar in bounce-back effort

By Loren Nelson, Legacy Hockey, 03/10/23, 8:45PM CST


Hornets goalie in top form in state Class 2A semifinal victory over the Raiders

A night after giving up six goals to Moorhead, Edina's Robbie Clarkowski allowed just one in a 4-1 state Class 2A quarterfinal victory over Cretin-Derham Hall. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

ST. PAUL — Edina’s one-day dalliance with run-and-gun hockey ended Friday with an emphatic thud.

Thud as in Hornets defenders slamming into Cretin-Derham Hall forwards. Thud as in rocket wrist shots landing squarely in Hornets goalie Robbie Clarkowski’s catching glove. Thud as in defense-focused Edina coach Curt Giles trashing what he joked about as a new, offense-first gameplan after scoring seven the night before.

“The boys played super well in front of me and blocked a lot of shots, so I didn’t have to do too much,” Clarkowski said after the No. 3 seed Hornets beat the unseeded Raiders 4-1 in a state Class 2A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center.

That’s one humble telling of the story. Cretin-Derham Hall’s Jake Fisher, one of 10 Mr. Hockey finalists, had an altogether different version.

“He’s obviously a great goalie,” Fisher said. “He’s what, 6-foot-4? Definitely hard going against a goalie like that. He had my number tonight, couldn’t get it past him.”

Edina’s 7-6 win over Moorhead in Thursday’s quarterfinals appeared to have no ill effect on Clarkowski’s psyche. One of three finalists for the Frank Brimsek Award that goes to the state’s top senior goaltender, he stopped 23 of 24 shots against the Raiders after giving up six on 30 shots Thursday night.

“He’s a leader, he knows what to do,” Edina junior Jackson Nevers said when asked if there was any concern about Clarkowski’s mindset. “We’re pretty big on if something doesn’t go our way, we flush it and start a new day.”

Clarkowski made 13 of his saves in the first period, which ended in a 1-1 tie. With Edina having returned to its neutral-zone-clogging, no-room-to-breathe defensive self, the Raiders’ scoring chances came with less and less regularity.

And with comfortably Edina in front 3-1 thanks to a clutch Ryan Flaherty goal midway through the third (he later added an empty-netter) there was no reason for the Hornets to cheat offensively.

“I think tonight they played a little bit more of what I would call Curt’s M.O.,” Cretin-Derham Hall coach Matt Funk said. “It’s really, really tough when they sit back and take your time and space away.”

Edina’s Ryan Flaherty (far right) celebrates the first of his two goals in the third period of Friday night’s state Class 2A semifinal against Cretin-Derham Hall. The Hornets defeated the Raiders 4-1. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

Quick Recap

ST. PAUL — Robbie Clarkowski stopped 23 of 24 shots and Ryan Flaherty scored two third-period goals as No. 3 seed Edina beat unseeded Cretin-Derham Hall 4-1 on Friday in a state Class 2A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center.

Flaherty gathered the puck at the right side of the net after it took a bounce off the lively end boards and beat Cretin-Derham Hall goaltender Leo Miller to put No. 3-2A Edina (22-6-1) ahead 3-1 with 6:09 remaining. He added an empty-net goal with 2:27 left.

Flaherty, a junior forward, had a goal and three assists in Thursday’s semifinal victory over Moorhead. He has 10 points in his last five games.

Clarkowski, one of three finalists for the Frank Brimsek Award that goes to the state’s top senior goaltender, rebounded from allowing six goals against Moorhead to a near-flawless performance. He made 13 of his saves in a hectic first period that ended with teams tied at 1-1.

Attila Lippai scored the lone goal for Cretin-Derham Hall (19-10-1).

Mason West, right, scored to put Edina ahead of Cretin-Derham Hall 2-1 during Friday night’s Class 2A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

Cretin-Derham Hall’s Leo Miller stares down an Edina shot during the first period of the Friday night’s first Class 2A semifinal. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

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