Hornet junior set to pursue another title
After winning a state Class AA girls hockey title in her junior year, Edina forward Emily Oden is already thinking about winning again next winter.
This has been the best year of Oden’s hockey career. Not only did she win a state Class AA championship, she also helped Team USA win the Under-18 World Tournament in the Czech Republic. While on the trip with the national team in January, Oden missed five Edina varsity games. She still finished as the Hornets’ leading goal scorer with 25 this season. The Hornets posted a 28-1-1 overall record. The only blemishes on their record were a 2-1 loss to state Class A champion Blake and a 3-3 tie with Breck.
Oden compared the experience of winning state to the experience of winning world titles with Team USA the last two years.
“Winning state felt just as good because it is something Edina never did before,” she said. “With the national team, you’re only together for a few weeks. And with your high school team, you’re together for almost four months. Our high school team bonded in a special way. We grew up playing together and won the state Under-12 championship.”
When the final buzzer sounded in Edina’s 4-0 win over Blaine in the state championship game Feb. 25 at Xcel Energy Center, Oden had only one thought: “Time to celebrate!”
As time was running out in the third period, she said to herself, “We’re going to win,” and the Hornets played hard until the end to preserve their second shutout of the state tourney. In the semifinal round, they had beaten Eden Prairie 4-0.
“Anytime we beat Eden Prairie, it’s a great feeling,” said Oden. “I still remember when we beat them to go to the state tournament my freshman year.”
Oden has been on the Edina varsity since eighth grade, and she is proud to be part of the Hornet tradition. She played three seasons for former head coach Laura Slominski, a former Ms. Hockey in her playing days at Burnsville High. This year, Oden played for the Hornets’ new head coach, Sami Reber.
“Sami just finished playing [for Harvard University] two years ago,” said Oden. “She knows how to motivate her players. I like her joy and her youthfulness.”
Reber has begun thinking about next season.
“We lose an incredible group of seniors, but I’m excited about the players we have coming back,” she said.
The returning group features the Hornets’ two leading scorers, Oden and Lolita Fidler.
Megan Smith, who was 6-0-0 playing behind starting goalie Anna Goldstein, is likely to step into the position.
In her junior year, Oden played on a line with senior Anna Klein and sophomore C.C. Bowlby.
“Anna and I were in our third year together,” said Oden. “C.C. fit in well and we kept up with each other. We were able to create a lot of odd-man rushes.”
Oden observed that depth played a big role in Edina’s championship season.
“This year’s team had the most depth of any Edina team I have played on,” she said. “Our third line could compete with anyone else’s first line.”
When she goes on to collegiate hockey, following her final season of high school competition, Oden will be going from one winner to another. She has verbally committed to play for her hometown school, the University of Minnesota.
“Since I was 6 years old, I have always dreamed of playing for the Gophers,” she said. “I think the girls on the team are the coolest.”
With the Gophers, Oden will be able to play one season alongside her former high school teammate, Taylor Williamson.
“It is a relief when you can commit early to a school,” said Oden.
Like most high school students, Oden needs to manage her time wisely, and not having to take calls from recruiters frees up her time during the offseason.
“People say your junior year in high school is the hardest,” she said. “I always have to juggle hockey and homework.”
Oden is doing a good job on both fronts with a 3.8 GPA last semester.
She said that having a supportive family behind her is a big advantage for an athlete.
“My parents [Tom and Andrea Oden] are the ones who made it all happen,” Oden noted.
Contact John Sherman at [email protected]