On one side of the Dakotah! Center ice on Friday night was Edina, in need of a lift after seeing its five-game win streak snapped in a one-goal loss to St. Thomas Academy at the Tradition Holiday Invitational the night before.
On the other side was Cretin-Derham Hall, a team rattled by a horrible injury to junior forward Veszi Lippai in a shutout victory over Prior Lake the previous night.
While it was Edina, ranked sixth in Class 2A, that emerged with a 2-1 overtime victory on Friday night, both teams escaped with the rejuvenation they needed.
Senior forward Jackson Nevers scored with 2 minutes left in overtime to give the Hornets the victory. It was a hard-earned goal and it came with the required puck luck.
“We knew it was going to come down to a bounce, and they got that bounce in overtime,” Cretin-Derham Hall coach Matt Funk said.
Nevers concurred. In fact, he praised the Raiders’ defense and goaltender Leo Miller for their work in thwarting the first of his two overtime chances to end the game.
Nevers, a fourth-year varsity player and second-year captain who has committed to the University of Minnesota, found himself with the puck in front of the Raiders’ net but with nowhere to go. Miller blocked his path so Nevers tried to send the puck outside to a teammate. He slid his stick under a Raiders’ defender and swatted the puck to teammate Barrett Dexheimer.
“The defender went to bat (the puck) away and it went over his stick. (Dexheimer) made a nice pass to (Bobby) Cowan, who made another really nice pass into me,” Nevers said.
Miller was off-balance, and Nevers had a clear look on his second attempt. He ended the game and put the Hornets back on a winning track.
“The last two games haven’t been our best,” Edina coach Curt Gilles said. “It’s nice to eke out a win.”
The Hornets have plenty of players who can score. They entered the game with seven players with four or five goals this season. But it made sense that it was Nevers, who is the emotional leader of the team, who scored in overtime.
Cretin-Derham Hall set up the overtime when Nate Chorlton scored on a power play with just under 5 minutes left in regulation.
“It kind of sucks the air out of you, but you have to respond,” Nevers said. “We had a lot of positivity on the bench and that helped us keep going.”
Giles said Nevers had a lot to do with keeping his teammates’ spirits up and focused on getting the job done.
“He’s very positive,” Giles said of Nevers, whose game-winning goal was the 43rd of his four-year varsity career and 80th career point. “He looks out for the young players. I think he remembers what it’s like to be a freshman on the varsity and he kind of takes those guys under his wing.”
While the victory was just what the doctor ordered for the Hornets, a doctor’s report from earlier in the day set the Raiders on the right path. Lippai suffered a spiral fracture of his right leg in the Raiders’ 5-0 victory over Prior Lake on Thursday night. The injury was bad enough that the game was called with 12 minutes left in regulation.
Lippai had surgery Friday morning to repair both a broken tibia and fibula. Surgeons implanted a metal rod for support. Hours later, Lippai gave his own support to his teammates with texts and phone calls and a promise to watch them play Edina that evening.
“We had some guys who stepped up,” Funk said. “This is a group that has battled through a lot of adversity the past few years.”
Last season, a Cretin-Derham Hall JV player, Cormick Scanlan, died as a result of multiple strokes caused by a rare blood vessel disease called moyamoya. A 16-year-old sophomore, Scanlan died on Christmas Day.
Lippai’s messages to his teammates helped, and the Raiders came into the game with their usual defensive intensity. That is the victory Funk is taking from Friday night’s game.
Jackson Nevers got a second chance and made it pay as Edina escaped with a 2-1 overtime victory over Cretin-Derham Hall Friday night at the Tradition Holiday Invitational in Prior Lake.
Nevers found himself with the puck right in front of the Raiders' net with 2 minutes to play but goalie Leo Miller didn't give him an opening. Nevers slid his stick under a Cretin-Derham Hall defender and flipped the puck outside the scrum to keep the Hornets' attack alive.
Defenseman Barrett Dexheimer got the puck to Bobby Cowan, who got it back to Nevers, who this time found the needed opening and ended the game with his third goal of the three-day tournament.
No. 6-2A Edina, which lost 3-2 to St. Thomas Academy on Thursday, got back on the winning track and improved to 9-2-0.
Cretin-Derham Hall lost for the first time in the tournament and fell to 5-4-0 overall.