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Girls' hockey: Hill-Murray top Raiders to gain second state tournament
There was no love lost Feb. 15 at Aldrich Arena as two of the top girls hockey teams in the state staged an epic battle.
The Hill-Murray Pioneers - ranked number one in Section 4AA girls' hockey - advanced to the finals of section play against the Roseville Raiders, ranked number two.
The score was 0-0 after the first 34 minutes of action as goaltenders for both teams - Roseville's Brittany Boss and Hill-Murray's Alexys Woodward - stood their ground.
In the end Hill-Murray coach Bill Schafhauser praised the goalies on both ends of the rink and his defense.
"Both goalies played exceptionally well," he stated. "Our defense held up particularly well. Especially in the second period when we had a 'ton' of penalties. We even skated off a 5-on-3 penalty and that put us into the third period still with no goals by either team. We were able to hold off our nemesis (Kate) Flug when she was on the ice. We didn't double up on her, but our defense and goalie played just an awesome game."
Flug - a senior forward for the Raiders - was able to garner one goal that came off a scramble in front the Pioneers' goal.
In the game the Hill-Murray offense and defense led by Woodward, out shot Roseville by 26-17.
Through two exciting periods of end-to end hockey by the teams that gave every indication why they were seeded one and two, the goalies on both ends held the offense at bay.
In the end it was power plays that proved the difference.
Advantage in numbers
Hill-Murray gained the first upper hand when skating with a skater advantage, Jac Kaasa slipped the disc across to Sarah Bobrowski who sent a feed back to Kenzie Prater. The ninth-grade defender knocked a laser shot that sailed high into the Roseville net for a power play tally at 3:35 of period three.
Just under 30 seconds later, the Raiders came charging back. A wild melee in front of the Hill-Murray net saw Meghan Reilly bounce a shot off Woodward's pads. The rebound caromed to Flug and she fired it inside the pipes for the 1-1 tally at 4:04.
The Pioneers went on another power play. A shot from defender Brittney Anderson was tipped in by Jessica Bonfe for what turned out to be the game winner at 11:43.
The intense action continued until the Raiders got the opportunity late in the period to pull Boss in favor of a sixth attacker.
The ploy backfired, however, when Bobrowski picked up an errant pass and sailed in to file a shot into an empty net at 16:44.
The victory by the Pioneers sent them to their second Minnesota State Girls' High School Class AA.
Hill-Murray, with a record of 19-5-4, was scheduled to open tournament play against Section 3AA champion Eagan (18-9-1) at 1 p.m. Feb. 21 at the, Xcel Energy Center.