Panthers to play Minnetonka in state semifinal

Lakeville North girls hockey rocks Roseau 5-0 in quarterfinal

by Andy Rogers
Thisweek Newspapers

It was a night for the record books for Lakeville North girls hockey.

The Panthers defeated Roseau 5-0 in the Class AA state quarterfinal game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday. It’s the first time in school history a Panther hockey team won a state quarterfinal game. It was the second trip from the girls hockey team who lost in the first round in 2010, and the boys hockey team is 0-6 in state quarterfinal games all time.

“This team has a lot more heart,” junior Ashley Kloncz said. “We all play together better. We have three solid lines. We have great defense and a great goaltender. We all have our head in the game and we don’t get down on each other.”

Sophomore Alexis Joyce put her name in the Minnesota State High School League record books for tying the state record for most assists in a game with five. It’s the first time she’s had five assists in a game of this caliber.

If that wasn’t enough excitement for Panther fans,  Kloncz fanned the flames of her hot streak with a hat trick. She has scored a goal in every playoff game this season including five in the last two games.

Every goal was scored with a different hockey stick.

“I used three sticks tonight, broke two,” she said. “Whatever stick works. I don’t know what happened. I was upset. Alexis told me to stop worrying about it. I was just getting super mad.”

The Panthers will play No. 1 seed and defending state champion Minnetonka, who defeated Eagan 4-1 earlier in the night, at 8 p.m. on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The winner will play for the Class AA state title at 7 p.m on Saturday.

“(Minnetonka is) going to be doing things we’re accustomed to seeing in the South Suburban Conference,” Kochevar said. “We’re excited to play them.”

Two years ago, Lakeville North lost to Irondale in the quarterfinals and lost to Roseau in overtime the following day in the consolation bracket.

“This is their second go round here,” Kochevar said. “They’re hungry. Not to say they weren’t two years ago, but I think they’re playing with a lot more confidence this year.”

Many of the players didn’t have the usual nerves from stepping onto the ice at state for the first time.

The Panthers got on the goal first thanks to a Christi Vetter rebound shot, which needed to be confirmed via replay by the officials. Heidi Winiecki and Joyce were credited with the assists. That seemed to break the ice for the Panthers who went up 2-0 before the period’s end with a goal by Dani Sadek and an assist by from Joyce.

“They’re quick. They’re strong. They’re very aggressive,” Roseau head coach Brian Bergstrom said. “Not to take anything from them, they played an outstanding game, but we helped them a little bit.”

The Panthers played comfortable and confident the rest of the way. Kloncz added to the lead in the final two minutes of the second period with a shot from the in-zone face off dot with assists by Joyce and Vetter to go up 3-0. Kloncz added another on a power play with assists from Vetter and Joyce and again a few minutes later.

Andy Rogers is at andy.rogers@ecm-inc.com.

 

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