State Girls Hockey: Dodge County moving on to first state title game after Class A semifinal win

Girls State Hockey: Class 1A Semifinal – Dodge County vs. Orono

Dodge County is seizing the opportunity during its inaugural trip to the Minnesota State High School League’s Girls Hockey State Tournament.

The Wildcats (23-4-0), the No. 3 seed in the Class A field, earned a spot in the championship game with a 4-2 victory over No. 2 Orono (21-7-1) on Friday, Feb. 23 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

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The Wildcats battled back from an early 1-0 deficit after the first period to claim the victory on the strength of three unanswered goals in the second period. Dodge County will now advance to its first ever Class A title game, which will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Xcel Energy Center. Dodge County will face the winner of today’s other semifinal showdown between No. 1 seed Academy of Holy Angels and No. 4 seed Warroad.

The runner-up at last year’s Class A tournament, Orono lit the lamp first in the game as Maddy Kimbrel scored at 12:16 of the first period. Kimbrel drove to the net and put a shot on goal, which was initially stopped by Dodge County netminder Ida Huber. On the following rebound, Kimbrel scored her 25th goal of the season to give the Spartans a 1-0 edge.

Early in the second period, Dodge County evened the tally at 1-1 with a power play goal from the left dot by Nora Carstensen on a solo assist from Abby Simons. This was Carstensen’s 34th goal of the 2023-2024 season.

At 9:45 of the second period, Dodge County’s Kylie Meyer scored an even-strength goal to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. Assists on the play were added by Alyse Williamschen and Hannah Peterson.

Just 20 seconds later, Dodge County’s Maysie Koch broke up an Orono play at the Wildcat’s blue line and took the puck the distance on a breakaway to score her team’s third goal of the afternoon at 10:07 of the second period.

Orono rallied in the third period with a backhander from the slot by Macy Rasmussen that found the back of the net at 6:30 and cut the Wildcat lead to 3-2. Assists on the goal were provided by Gabrielle Lopez and Alexa Niccum.

The Spartans continued to put pressure on throughout the third as they outshot Dodge County 13-5 in the period but several key stops by the Wildcats’ Huber kept the score at 3-2. With just over 1:00 left in the period, Orono pulled its goalie but were unable to convert as Dodge County’s Koch scored an unassisted empty net goal at 16:38 to make the final 4-2.

Huber finished the contest with 35 saves and gained the victory in goal for Dodge County as Orono outshot the Wildcats 37-26 in the game. On special teams, Dodge County was 1-of-1 on the power play and 2-of-2 on the penalty kill.