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Girls hockey: Hill-Murray advances to finals of State tourney
Minnetonka 3 — Hill-Murray 1
The 8-game unbeaten streak enjoyed by the Hill-Murray girls’ hockey team came to an end at the true end of the line: the state hockey finals Feb. 23.
The Pioneers were stopped by Minnetonka, who came into the Class AA championship game defending the 2012 – and 2011 – state titles.
Despite a record-setting 4-hour 14-minute game played by the Skippers the night before, Minnetonka had more than enough energy and speed to outplay the Pioneers in the championship game.
“We knew we would have to control their speed and try to keep them to the outside,” stated Hill-Murray head coach Bill Schafhauser following the game. “I thought we did that pretty well, but we couldn’t get past their defense in the offensive end. They have an amazing program and deserved the win. I have a lot of respect for Minnetonka. They are a fun team to watch. But if you make a mistake, they make you pay. We did that tonight.”
The Skippers gained the upper hand when Hill-Murray had trouble clearing the puck against the Minnetonka forecheck.
Maggie Bazany fired a shot on goal and the rebound was banged to the back of the Hill-Murray net by Darby Flatley just 2:56 into the game.
The speed and puck movement was evident in the play of Minnetonka from the start. Just over five minutes into the game they owned an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal. The game ended with the Skippers on top of a 28-18 leeway.
Halfway through the second period the Pioneers were able to knot the score when they had a skater advantage.
Becca Zarembinski and Kate Smith combined to slip the puck to Jessica Bonfe and she was able to find a niche inside the right post at 8:57 of the second period.
What turned out the be the game-winner came nearly four minutes later when Diana Draayer sprung Amy Peterson free up the slot. The senior forward broke up the slot and fired a point-blank missile that dented the upper left back twines at 12:40.
The game-clincher for the Skippers came in the third period when a two-on-one break saw Peterson and Laura Bowman break into the Hill-Murray slot. A super feed by Peterson saw Bowman at the left doorstep slip the biscuit inside the left pipe at 3:04.
From then on it was Katie-bar-the-door as the Skippers skated to their third straight Class AA title in only their third appearance at the classic.
Hill-Murray ended the season with a record of 21-6-4.
It was their second trip to the tournament and it prompted coach Schafhauser to say, ”This has been a great experience for our team.”
With the Pioneers only losing two seniors, they’re poised for another great season, he added. “We are young and being able to reach the finals has meant so much experience-wise to every player who will be back with us next season.”
Two of the players who will be returning are juniors Sarah Bobrowski and Samantha Boyer. Both were named to the 2013 All-State Tournament team.
Minnetonka coach Adam Kragthorpe said his team’s performance after the long struggle the night before wasn’t unexpected. “No I wasn’t surprised that we had so much jump in our skates,” he said. “And that early goal energized us.”
Kragthorpe added, “This has been an amazing experience to be able to coach this group of girls. The thing I will miss most about this year is waking up on Monday and not meeting them at practice.”