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Hill-Murray girls hockey set for another state tournament
The Hill-Murray girls hockey team is set to make another run at a state championship this week. The Pioneers are in the Class AA state tournament for the fifth consecutive year and sixth in program history.
Seeded third, Hill-Murray opens the tournament on Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center against unseeded Eastview.
In their previous five state-tournament appearances, the Pioneers are a perfect 5-0 in the quarterfinals. Four of those victories came against unseeded teams and the first, back in 2011, was against the No. 3 seed with Hill-Murray being unseeded.
Hill-Murray’s record in those five state appearances is 11-4 and its lowest finish has been fourth place, which happened in 2011. The Pioneers were the state runners-up in 2013, won championships in 2014 and 2015 and finished third last season.
Hill-Murray is one of four teams in this year’s Class AA tournament with 20 or more wins. The Pioneers’ 23 victories are second only to top-seeded Edina, which has 25 wins entering the tournament.
Blaine is the No. 2 seed and the other two seeded teams are Eden Prairie (fourth) and Forest Lake (fifth). The other unseeded teams, along with Eastview, are Roseau and Farmington.
The state tournament continues on Feb. 24 with the consolation semifinals at Ridder Arena and the championship semifinals at Xcel Energy Center. The third-place and championship games are Feb. 25 at Xcel and the consolation final is also Feb. 25 at Ridder.
Hill-Murray reached the state tournament this year by once again winning the Section 4AA title. The Pioneers beat Irondale/St. Anthony 6-1 in the quarterfinals, Roseville 4-0 in the semifinals and White Bear Lake 4-1 in the championship game.
In the final, Hill-Murray jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, saw White Bear Lake draw within one at 2-1 and then scored the last two goals of the game.
Nina Steigauf and Morgan Helgeson got Hill-Murray going with first-period goals. Steigauf scored with 4:35 left in the first and Helgeson tallied her goal with nine seconds to go.
White Bear Lake made it a one-goal game at 9:58 of the second but Lindsey Featherstone restored Hill-Murray’s two-goal cushion two minutes later.
Abigail Boreen scored the only goal of the third period with 43 seconds left.
Ava Bailey stopped 21 White Bear Lake shots to earn the victory. Hill-Murray finished with 30 shots on goal.
Class AA girls hockey state tournament
At Xcel Energy Center unless noted
Quarterfinals, Feb. 23
Seed, record in parentheses
Game 1 – Blaine (2, 22-3-2) vs. Roseau (Unseeded, 19-8-1), 11 a.m.
Game 2 – Hill-Murray (3, 23-4-1) vs. Eastview (Unseeded, 16-10-2), 1 p.m.
Game 3 – Edina (1, 25-1-1) vs. Farmington (Unseeded, 16-11-1), 6 p.m.
Game 4 – Eden Prairie (4, 19-6-2) vs. Forest Lake (5, 20-6-2), 8 p.m.
Consolation semifinals, Feb. 24 at Ridder Arena
Game 5 – Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 6 – Game 3 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 12 p.m.
Semifinals, Feb. 24
Game 7 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 8 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 8 p.m.
Consolation final, Feb. 25 at Ridder Arena
Game 9 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 12 p.m.
Third-place game, Feb. 25
Game 10 – Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 11 a.m.
Championship game, Feb. 25
Game 11 – Game 7 winner Game 8 winner, 7 p.m.