Less than 24 hours after leading Eden Prairie to its second Minnesota state championship in three seasons on a goal in triple overtime, center Kyle Rau was named the Mr. Hockey Award recipient as the state's finest player on Sunday during a ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minn.
Rau, 18, scored the game-winner at 4:43 of the third OT in Saturday's Class 2A boys' hockey championship game at Xcel Energy Center -- site of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft on June 24-25. Rau's head-first dive to poke home a rebound enabled the Eagles to score a 3-2 triumph over Duluth East, marking the first time in 67 years that the state final went to three overtime periods.
Following the game, Duluth East coach Mike Randolph saluted Rau and his dedication.
"(Eden Prairie) has the best player in high school hockey, Mr. Hockey in my mind, (and he) scored the winner," Randolph told the Star Tribune. "I have nothing but respect for that kid. He could go anywhere he wanted, and he stayed in high school hockey. And he got rewarded (in the state final)."
There's a good chance Rau, who was rated No. 176 on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term report of North American skaters, will hear his name called at some point during the second day of this year's Entry Draft in his home state.
It certainly wouldn't surprise NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee.
"When the puck comes to him, he executes," Barzee told NHL.com just last week. "When the game is on the line, he scores the big goal -- he's done it over and over again. In fact, I've only seen him taken out of a game once (against Eagan on Dec. 22 when he had a season-high 4 penalty minutes)."
If Rau, born in Hoffman Estates, Ill., could compare himself to any NHL player, he'd say Philadelphia Flyers forward Daniel Briere. His favorite player, however, is Chicago's Patrick Kane. On his dramatic triple-overtime winner, he dived to get a stick on a rebound of a shot taken by his twin brother, Curt, from the point. The puck got behind goaltender JoJo Jeanetta and Rau won the race before knocking it over the goal line.
"Rau has a sneakiness about him and a dynamic hockey sense where he's able to out-guess and out-think people," Barzee said.
In 25 regular season games, Rau produced 33 goals, 36 assists, 69 points (2.76 point per game) and a plus-24 rating. In three sectional playoff contests, he had 3 goals, 5 points and a plus-3 rating and in three more state tournament matches, notched 5 goals, 7 points (2.33 ppg.) and a plus-3 rating.
The University of Minnesota-bound standout totaled 41 goals, 40 assists, 81 points (2.61 ppg.) and a plus-30 rating in 31 games in 2010-11.
The top scholastic player in the nation, Wayzata's Mario Lucia (No. 30 on Central Scouting), whose team was defeated by Eden Prairie in the sectional championship game, isn't surprised Rau garnered the Mr. Hockey Award.
"He doesn't do the skill moves but he's a hard worker and never stops moving his feet, shooting the puck all the time," Lucia told NHL.com. "He goes to the net. You always need to watch out for him in the slot."
Lucia, who finished with 30 goals, 24 assists, 54 points (2.00 ppg.) and a plus-34 rating in 27 games with Wayzata this season, isn't eligible for the Mr. Hockey Award since he's only a junior. Lucia, the son of University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, had 5 goals (2 game-winners), 7 points and a plus-8 rating in three sectional playoff games -- Wayzata lost a 4-3 double-OT decision to Eden Prairie on a Rau goal in the final.
The Mr. Hockey Award is given to the outstanding senior high school hockey player in the state of Minnesota and is selected by a panel of National Hockey League Scouts, Division I coaches and selected media members from around the state.
The top 10 candidates for the 2011 Mr. Hockey Award were Josh Archibald (Brainerd High School), Ben Bahe (Hill-Murray), Jon Brodzinski (Blaine High School), Tony Cameranesi (Wayzata High School), Patrick Daly (Benilde-St. Margaret's), Max Everson (Edina High School), Steven Fogarty (Edina High School), Garrett Hendrickson (Virginia High School), Joe LaBate (Academy of Holy Angels) and Rau.
Rau (Minnesota), Daly (Wisconsin), Everson (Harvard), Fogarty (Notre Dame), Hendrickson (St. Cloud), Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha), Labate (Wisconsin) and Cameranesi (Minnesota-Duluth) all have college commitments. Labate was rated No. 60 by Central Scouting, followed by Everson (No. 81), Fogarty (No. 132), Cameranesi (No. 160) and Rau (No. 176).
Lake of the Woods' Alex Lyon was named the Brimsek Award winner as the state's top goaltender.
Lyon, rated No. 20 by Central Scouting among domestic goalies, finished 17-7-3 with a 1.60 GAA, six shutouts and .945 save percentage in 27 games. He was 1-1-0 with a 3.03 GAA and .943 save percentage in two state sectional tournament games.
Lyon, who will likely play in the USHL with Cedar Rapids in 2011-12, beat out Eden Prairie's Andrew Ford, who was also nominated for the award as the top senior keeper.
Ford finished the regular season 19-4-2 with a 2.27 GAA, four shutouts and a .900 save percentage in 25 contests. In his team's three-game sweep to the state title, Ford went 3-0-0 with a 1.20 GAA, .943 save percentage and one shutout.
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