Eden Prairie's Ben Campbell (14) hits the turf as Champlin Park's Cole Groebner, left, and Dylan Saline converge on the play. Photo by Loren Nelson
The rain was steady. The field turf was slick.
The state's No.-5 ranked team was in town with an upset of the undefeated and top-ranked squad on its mind.
"We played them to a one goal game last year, and we came in pretty confident," Champlin Park coach Eric Borer said.
While his team might have been on upset alert, the conditions were all too comfortable for Eden Prairie junior Charlie Venable.
"I thought it was going to ruin my stick, but if anything it made it better," Venable said about playing in the rain. "It feels great to be out here. Keeps you cool."
Venable was far from cool. The rain could not douse the fire that accumulated from his stick. All he did in the No. 1 Eagles' convincing 13-3 victory against Champlin Park was notch six goals and chip in with an assist.
He even ripped a hole in the net with one of his goals, forcing a delay for repairs to the upper right corner of the net.
Venable's name was mentioned so often that the public address announcer could have made his job easier by recording Venable's name and simply punching play after nearly all of Eden Prairie's goals.
The variety in which Venable scored was just as impressive. Set plays, rushing to the net, jump shots, you name it.
Eden Prairie's Charlie Venable beats Champlin Park goaltender Joey Dokken for a second-half goal. Photo by Loren Nelson
"He's a very versatile player. We can play him at midfield we can play him at attack," Eden Prairie coach Ryan Ward said. "It was probably the best game he played this year. He's an animal riding.
"He's got a motor on him, and he is kind of like a little bulldog when he plays. He's scrappy, and I really like his competitive nature."
Eden Prairie has depth that no other team has and on any given night any Eagle can be that star. Venable ran away with the role.
"It just happened to be me tonight," Venable said. "It will change up every game like it always does. We have so many versatile players that can do almost anything from any position. We have guys that can fill in that can do just as good."
With the relentless offensive attack Eden Prairie brings out each night, its opposition is left with the daunting position of selecting its poison.
"What is nice about our team is you just cant focus on one player, because we will hit you with other spots," Ward said. "We have a lot of guys that can have four, five, six goal performances and tonight was Chuck's (Venable) night."
For Venable he found himself in mismatches against a short pole where he was able to exploit with his skills to unload numerous shots that more often than not had Champlin Park goalie Joey Dokken picking the ball out of his net.
"They kept on giving me a short pole down low, which was super easy to beat," Venable said.
The runaway win was a testament to what the Eagles have done with the bevy of talented players up and down their lineup.
"They have depth, depth in scoring," Borer said. "A lot of guys that can put the ball in the back of the net."
-- Justin Magill
Eden Prairie's Brooks Armitage, left, and Charlie Venable get some big air as they celebrate a goal. Photo by Loren Nelson
Junior Charlie Venable scored six goals as No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie moved one step closer to a perfect regular season by rolling past No. 5 Champlin Park 13-3 on Tuesday, May 21, Eden Prairie High School.
The Eagles close the regular season at 6 p.m. on Thursday against defending state champion and No. 4-ranked Eastview in a rematch of last year’s state title game.
Champlin Park (8-2) was riding an eight-game win streak after a season-opeing loss to No. 2 Blaine, but the Rebels had no answer for the 5-foot-8 Venable, a running back during football season who mixes eye-blink quickness with a hard-nosed, physical style. Venable scored twice in the opening quarter as the Eagles raced to a 3-0 lead while controlling all but a few minutes of play. Eden Prairie had a 12-1 advantage in first-quarter shots.
Champlin Park pulled within 5-2 on Cody Schmitt’s goal 90 seconds into third quarter, but Eden Prairie (12-0) scored the next seven goals spanning the third and fourth quarters to take control.
Brooks Armitage scored three goals and J.D. Spielman added two for the Eagles, who also got a rare goal from defenseman Arik Andreen.
Max Turgeon scored twice for Champlin Park. The Rebels got a solid performance from goaltender Joey Dokken, who entered the game as the state’s leader in save percentage. He made nine saves on 22 shots.
-- Loren Nelson
1. Charlie Venable, Eden Prairie
The junior was on the attack all night scoring six goals and adding one assist. Venable scored in a variety of ways. Routine goals were getting a bit redundant so he netted a few jump shot goals to add to his highlight reel.
2. Brooks Armitage, Eden Prairie
The senior was just another cog in the Eagles' engine, scoring three goals and now leads the team in that department. His final two goals came at an important time as the Eagles, despite controlling most of the game, did not have a big lead. Armitage's goals spread the lead to 9-2 and took the life out of the Rebels.
3. J.D. Spielman, Eden Prairie
One of the younger players on the Eagles, Spielman played with the intensity of an upperclassmen. He netted two goals and was a force to be reckoned with early on. Only a freshman, it is scary to think of his potential.
-- Justin Magill