The No. 1 ranked Lakeville North Panthers boys’ hockey team never faced the No. 5 ranked Eden Prairie Eagles in the 2014-2015 regular season. But that doesn’t mean defenders such as Jack Sadek and Jack McNeely don’t know Eden Prairie’s Casey Middelstadt and Michael Graham almost as well as teammates.
Because they were once teammates.
Sadek, McNeely, Ryan Edquist, Nick, Jack, and Ryan Poehling all played on the Southwest Elite Team in the fall with Middelstadt, Graham and Eden Prairie defenseman Brady Schoo, so the familiarity with the No. 5 seed Eden Prairie Eagles is there.
With Edquist on the backend and McNeely and Sadek in front of him, in the state semifinals, the Panthers are tasked with stopping the dynamic duo of Graham and Middelstadt who lit up the Blaine Bengals for two goals a piece in the Class 2A state quarterfinals. The team’s two leading scorers will pose the largest threat in keeping Lakeville North from returning to the state championship.
From the players who I’ve spoken with, they acknowledge that both forwards are “really good players” and it will be a challenge to shut Middelstadt and Graham down.
But Sadek and McNeely will be well prepared to contain Middelstadt and Graham as they know the two well and the skill sets they possess from playing together in the fall.
Buckle up for Friday, it’s going to be quite the game between the Eagles and Panthers as they fight for a state championship bid, with the Eagles looking to end a 29-game Lakeville North winning streak.