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Edina celebrates its Section 5 championship victory over Blake. Photo by Helen Nelson

Time was running out in the fourth quarter of a deadlocked section championship game.
 
Edina’s Brian Baker had the ball and a decision to make.
 
Shoot it or hold it. Hold or shoot. Shoot. Hold.
 
Some of Edina’s coaches were yelling from the sideline. 
 
“Hold it!”
 
Some of Baker’s teammates on the field were screaming instructions, too. 
 
“Shoot it!”
 
Baker didn’t hear any of it. He just reacted.

Edina senior Brian Baker scored the winning goal with 2.4 seconds left in the Hornets' Section 5 championship victory over Blake. Photo by Helen Nelson

The ball sailed out of Baker’s stick and off the post on its way into the upper right corner of the goal. 
 
A 12-yard shot. That’s long range. Especially long when the goaltender is Blake’s Calder Sutton, a senior who had been spectacular in stopping most everything thrown his way – most of those shots coming from much closer range.
 
“It was a pretty far shot,” Baker said after his goal with 2.4 seconds left vaulted the Hornets to the 5-4 Section 5 championship game victory on Thursday, May 31, at the Edina Community Center. “I probably should have evaluated it more.
 
“But I just let it go.”
 
Baker’s shot sends Edina to the state tournament for the first time, the victory over the Bears serving as the icing on a most improbable run through the section playoffs. The Hornets were 3-9-1 when the playoffs began. Before beating Blake, the No. 5-seeded Hornets had stunned top-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s, the two-time defending state champion in the section semifinals.
 
“Our goal is to finish .500,” first-year Edina coach Travis Wells said with a smile.
 
Two more wins, and the Hornets would be 9-9-1. State champions, too.
 
“It was amazing,” Edina junior goaltender Austin Dover said about watching Baker score the winning goal. “It felt a lot like the Benilde win. Just unreal. 
 
“I think this one had a lot more emotion to it with state next. Shock. Excitement. So many feelings.”
 
Edina’s Derek Todd, a junior who scored twice as the Hornets’ erased a 4-2 deficit, wasn’t purposely contradicting his coaches’ orders when he yelled for Baker to take the decisive shot. Like Baker, he couldn’t hear the instructions coming in from the sidelines. Like Baker, he wanted the win – now.
 
“I think we’re going for the win all the time,” Todd said. “He couldn’t have picked a better spot. Pipe and in. You can’t get better than that.”
 
Baker’s game-ending elation marked a turnabout in emotion. He had tried at least three times with no success to beat Sutton with low shots. Baker said he was so frustrated that he told his coaches he was done shooting, that he simply couldn’t beat Sutton on this night. The message in return was to not give up, and to try a low-to-high shot if the opportunity came.
 
“I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll try it,” Baker said. “Sure enough, on that last one, low to high.”
 
Blake coach Chris Garland heard the “Don’t shoot” instructions coming from the Edina sideline. Then he saw Baker shoot.
 
“It was a great goal, a great shot,” Garland said. “That man had some serious moxie to take that one with 2.4 seconds left.”

Brian Baker has four goals in four playoff games, including the winner in the section championship against Blake. Photo by Helen Nelson

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Senior Brian Baker scored with 2.4 seconds remaining to lift Edina to a 5-4 victory over Blake on Thursday, May 31 in the Section 5 championship game at the Edina Community Center, sending the Hornets to the state tournament for the first time in program history.

Baker, who had been frustrated repeatedly on close-range shots by standout Bears senior goaltender Calder Sutton, took a feed from Danny Burke and unloaded a rising shot from 12 yards out that found the upper right corner.

Edina’s state tournament berth is one of the most unlikely in the history of the even, given that the Hornets entered the section playoffs with a 3-9-1 record and were the fifth seed. 

Baker’s winning goal came with the No. 6-seeded Bears (8-8-0) a man up. Blake senior Al Barnhart had been whistled for an illegal bodycheck with 51.5 second remaining after he leveled Edina goaltender Austin Dover.

Blake got three goals from Max Harrington and held leads of 3-1 and 4-2, but Edina got two goals from Derek Todd – one late in the third quarter and another with 1:53 remaining to tie the score at 4.

Sutton, one of two Mr. Goalie finalists, finished with 15 saves while Dover had nine.

A junior attackman who is the Hornets’ unquestioned go-to guy, Todd delivered the tying goal with 1:43 remaining, releasing his shot while diving face-first to the turf. He also had scored late in the third quarter to pull the Hornets to within 4-3 and was a consistent threat all game. Todd has 21 points (19 goals, 2 assists) in four playoff games.
 
The Blake senior, one of two Mr. Goalie finalists, was superb in stopping repeated point-blank shots with his stick and a wide variety of body parts. Sutton had 15 saves, and all of them came with a high degree of difficulty. 
 
A senior attackman, Baker was stopped three times by Sutton on close-range blasts. Baker, who had been shooting low, switched strategy on his fourth shot, picking an upper corner and hitting it with 2.4 seconds remaining to give the Hornets the thrilling victory.

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