Girls hockey: Pioneers survive opening round of state tourney

Linda Baumeister/Review Hill-Murray senior goalie Alexys Woodward (30) and junior defense Samantha Boyer (13) try to stop Eagan from scoring during the state quarterfinal. Woodward had 19 saves in the 6-2 win Thursday afternoon and tallied 60 saves over the 3-days at Xcel.

Linda Baumeister/Review Hill-Murray sophomore forward Jessica Bonfe (5) takes a shot on the Eagan goalie at Xcel Energy Center Feb. 21. The Pioneers went on to take second place at the Class AA State Tournament.

The Hill-Murray Pioneers entered the 2013 Minnesota State High School girls’ hockey tournament for the second time with high hopes. 

Two years ago Hill-Murray went into the State Classic and won the first game against Lakeville South and then dropped a pair of games and lost the opportunity to bring home a trophy. 

In the opening round of the 2013 tournament, Hill-Murray was successful to the tune of a 6-2 triumph over 212 Conference and Section 3AA champion Eagan.  

The Wildcats came into the tourney with a record of 18-9-1 and took on the number three ranked Pioneers (19-5-4). 

“We respected them (Hill-Murray),” stated Eagan coach Tom Younghans following the game. “We knew they would be quick. They moved the puck well and they have good balance, but I don’t think they did anything that we didn’t expect.”

“We came out strong and we have been doing that all year. I don’t know what happened in the second period. We were lucky to come out of that still leading,” explained Hill-Murray mentor Bill Schafhauser.

The third year coach talked about the second session when Eagan came out fired up and out skated the Pioneers. The second period shots on goal favored the Wildcats by 8-to-5. 

The tying tally came when Eagan ace Megan Wolfe broke out of her zone — ala Bobby Hull — passed a couple of defenders, went down the far side, cut around a defender and into the slot where she fired a bullet inside the left pipe for a short handed goal at 6:31 of period two. Wolfe’s tally tied the count at 1-1.

“We got out of the period and just kept skating. Thankfully it turned out well for us,” continued Hill-Murray mentor Schafhauser. 

The opening goal of the game came when the Pioneers were applying pressure in the Wildcats’ end. Kenzie Prater put a perfect pass — from the circle to the right of the Eagan net — onto the stick of Jac Kaasa. 

From 12 feet out and right in front, the ninth grade winger sent a quick wrister inside the left post at 3:08 for the only goal of the period. 

Eagan began to spend extended periods of time in the Hill-Murray end but until Wolfe broke through on her lone excursion for a short handed goal Pioneers’ goal keeper Alexys Woodward stood her ground. 

Hill-Murray edges up

Late in the second period Hill-Murray went up for good when Kaasa threw the puck into the bottom of the left circle. There Samantha Boyer banged a shot off the pads. At the top of the right circle Sarah Bobrowski corralled the rebound and sent it sailing into the back twines for the 2-1 count at 13:40. 

In the third period the Pioneers regained the upper hand. A huge pileup in front of the Eagan goal saw three Wildcats laying in front of the net. 

Laura Anderson sent a feed to Lexi Klein who relayed the biscuit to Brittany Anderson. The junior defender described the scene: “It was just a huge pile up. I didn’t have much time but I saw openings high and low on the left side. I fired low and it went in.” 

The goal at 5:37 was reviewed upstairs and after a long period of time, was declared good to push the Hill-Murray edge to 3-1. 

Just under five minutes later Hill-Murray cushioned their margin when Becca Zarembinski hit Jessica Bonfe with a pass right in front of the Eagan goal. The sophomore winger lined up a shot from 16 feet out and sent a laser blast to the back mesh at 10.13.

The Wildcats were not about to roll over and a pass from Kendra Callister found the stick of Shelby Williams who rifled a shot off Woodward’s pads. 

The rebound went up the slot where Brooke Madsen slammed it home inside the left post at 12:21. The Pioneers came right back a minute and a half later when good feeds from L. Anderson and Lexi Klein found Paige Freeberg at the left doorstep and she hammered it home at 13:58. 

As time was waning Eagan pulled their keeper in favor of a sixth attacker. The move backfired when Rachel Herzog and Freeberg combined to spring L. Anderson up ice. She evaded a defender and went up the middle to put slip the puck into the empty net for a 6-2 final at 15:51.  

The win moved the Pioneers (3) into semi final action.

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