Lakeville North going for third straight championship in 1AA
One of the first teams to qualify for the state girls hockey tournament will be from the South Suburban Conference, as Burnsville and Eastview play for the Section 3AA championship at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights.
The Blaze and Lightning were two of four SSC teams playing this week. South Suburban champion Lakeville North will face Dodge County for the Section 1AA title at 5 p.m. Thursday at Four Seasons Arena in Owatonna. Also still playing is Prior Lake, which faces Edina in a Section 2AA semifinal Tuesday night.
This will be Burnsville’s first time in the section final since winning it in 2010. The Blaze lost its last two playoff games against Eastview, one in the Section 3AA semifinals in 2011 and the other in the first round last year.
Eastview is in the section final for the second consecutive year and the fourth time in six years. The Lightning still is seeking its first trip to the state tournament.
Burnsville and Eastview split two regular-season games, with the Blaze winning the first 4-1 and the Lightning taking the rematch 5-3.
Burnsville (18-8-1) beat East Ridge 2-1 in the Section 3AA semifinals Saturday on senior forward Paige Skaja’s goal at 11:14 of the second overtime. Skaja also scored a power-play goal in the first period. Junior defender Emma Wittchow assisted on both goals.
East Ridge (15-10-1) thought it won the game at the end of the first overtime when a Raptors’ shot got past Burnsville goalie Lauren Bench. Officials originally ruled it a goal but then conferred and waved it off, ruling that time had expired in the period.
There was less drama in Eastview’s 4-1 semifinal victory over Hastings. Senior forward Kellie McGahn had a hat trick and ninth-grader Natalie Snodgrass had four assists for the Lightning (17-9-1).
Liz Palmi scored a power-play goal in the first period. McGahn added an even-strength goal about six minutes later.
The score remained 2-0 until Hastings scored with 1:46 remaining. McGahn, who had four goals in the regular season, scored two more in the final 1:14 to put the game out of reach.
Snodgrass’ four assists brought her team-leading point total to 39. Goalie Kaitlyn Pellicci made 27 saves.
Burnsville defeated Woodbury 4-0 in a section quarterfinal game Feb. 5 as Skaja scored twice and Bench made 19 saves. Lindsey Coleman had a goal and two assists, and Briita Nelson had one goal and one assist.
Pellicci stopped all 13 shots she faced as Eastview turned back Park of Cottage Grove 2-0 in the section quarterfinals. Erika Geary and Molly Beckman scored for the Lightning.
Two-time defending Section 3AA champion Eagan finished 11-14-1 after losing to East Ridge 3-1 in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats’ Emily Goff scored a power-play goal in the third period to tie the game 1-1, but East Ridge scored twice in the final four minutes to win the game.
Apple Valley lost 3-2 to Hastings in the quarterfinals. Meg Thelen and Jennifer Thomsen scored for the Eagles, who finished 7-18-1.
Rosemount finished 1-25 after losing to Woodbury 5-4 in the play-in game between the section’s eighth and ninth seeds Feb. 3. The Irish, who trailed 5-1 after two periods, got two goals from Natalie Deeg and one from Kristin Reuter in the third period, but the rally fell short. Hannah Enright scored on the power play in the second period.
Lakeville North is playing in the Section 1AA championship for the third consecutive year after defeating Lakeville South 2-0 in a semifinal game Saturday at Ames Arena.
Junior goalie Abby Cooper made 22 saves to earn her 11th shutout of the season. Morgan Manes scored in the first period and Alexis Joyce scored in the second. North dominated the first two periods, outshooting South 26-10. The Cougars had a 12-6 edge in shots in the third but could not get one past Cooper.
Lakeville North (20-5-2) will try to reach the state tournament for the third consecutive year and the fourth time since 2010. Dodge County (22-5) might be an outstate team but North knows the Wildcats are no pushover. Thursday’s game will be a rematch of last year’s Section 1AA final where Lakeville North defeated Dodge County 3-2.
Dodge County lost one-goal games to state powers Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Eden Prairie and Warroad. The Wildcats also have two regular-season victories over Achiever Academy, a private school team that defeated Lakeville North 2-1 in overtime in January.
Dodge County defeated Farmington 8-2 in Saturday’s other Section 1AA semifinal, outshooting the Tigers 47-20. Shelby Klotz and Danielle Wright scored for Farmington, which finished 12-13-2.
In Section 1AA quarterfinal games Feb. 5, Lakeville North defeated Rochester Mayo 8-0 as Heidi Winiecki had a goal and three assists. Four other Panthers – Joyce, Manes, Maddie McGlade and Taylor Flaherty – had three-point nights.
Lakeville South (17-9-1) defeated Rochester Century 6-3 in the Section 1AA quarterfinals. Farmington, the sixth seed in the section, beat third-seeded Rochester John Marshall/Rochester Lourdes 2-1 on Megan Stivers’ goal at 3:05 of overtime. Wright scored on a power play in the third period to tie the game, and Madeline Oines assisted on both Tigers goals.