Girls State Hockey: Edina beats Hill-Murray to claim 5th state championship

Girls State Hockey: Class AA Championship – Edina vs. Hill-Murray

Life as the No. 4 seed proved to be an enviable position during the Minnesota State High School League’s Girls Hockey State Tournament that just concluded. A mere three hours after Warroad completed a three-peat of Class A championships as the No. 4 seed, Edina did the same with a 2-0 victory over No. 2 Hill-Murray in a riveting Class AA title game on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

It is the first time in tournament history that two No. 4 seeds left the arena with state championships in tow.

After two scoreless periods of tense hockey where staunch defenses didn’t permit any kind of wide-open play from developing, the Hornets (24-6-1) scored two goals in quick fashion to not only capture a championship for the first time since 2021, but also avenge a 2-1 setback to Hill-Murray (25-4-1) on Nov. 30.

Junior forward Whitney Horton broke the stalemate on a power play goal at 9:16 of the third period, a play that was engineered by the creative playmaking of sophomore forward Lorelai Nelson’s no-look pass. Nelson starred again just more than three minutes later when she weaved around two Hill-Murray defenders to sizzle a shot past Pioneers senior goalie Grace Zhan, a finalist for the Senior Goalie of the Year Award.

It is Edina’s fifth state championship in the past eight seasons. The Hornets had a three-peat from 2017-2019.

Hill-Murray was attempting to win a Class AA championship for the first time since 2015 and add a story line that might not be matched in Minnesota girls hockey.

If the Pioneers had triumphed, it would have been the third hockey state championship in the Pohl household. Dad John Pohl, Hill-Murray’s head coach and activities director, won a state championship playing for Red Wing in 1997. His wife, Krissy Wendell Pohl, whose heroics are littered throughout the national record book, won a championship with Park Center in 2000. Their daughter, Emily, is a freshman forward.

En route to adding to its championship legacy, Edina defeated No. 5 Northfield in the quarterfinals and then toppled No. 1 Minnetonka in the semifinals late Friday. It was Edina’s second victory over the Skippers in three meetings this season. The teams split two games during the Lake Conference schedule.

Third place: Minnetonka, which opened the Class AA tournament as the top seed, rebounded from a semifinal loss to Edina with a 5-3 victory over No. 3 Andover in the third-place game at Xcel Energy Center. The Skippers (27-3-1) used five power play goals to end the season on a winning note. After a scoreless first period, Minnetonka rattled off three goals en route to building a lead it wouldn’t lose.

The game featured a combined 17 power play opportunities.

The Skippers opened up the scoring with a trio of power play goals in the second period that gave Minnetonka a 3-0 lead. Isabella Finnegan scored Minnetonka’s first goal with a solo assist from Lauren Goldsworthy at 4:56.

Minnetonka continued its attack at 5:09 of the second period with another power play goal that was produced by Kendra Distad that made it 2-0. Minnetonka’s fast and furious run in the second period ended with a third goal at 5:49 as Goldsworthy scored another goal on the advantage with a pair of assists from Lindzi Avar and Finnegan.

Andover stopped the Skippers’ offensive run at 9:57 of the second period as Amelia McQuay scored an even strength goal that closed the gap to 3-1. Teammate Avery Kasick earned the solo assist on the play.

The offensive fireworks in the second continued at 13:23 as Goldsworthy added her squad’s fourth power play goal of the game. The unassisted goal provided the Skippers with a 4-1 lead.

In the closing minute of the second period, Andover lit the lamp twice with Courtney Little posting an unassisted goal at 16:08. Just :20 later, Andover’s Maya Engler scored at 16:28 with assists from Mackenzie Jones and Nora Sauer provided assists on the play that narrowed Minnetonka’s lead to 4-3.

In the third period, Minnetonka halted the Andover rally with Goldsworthy’s third goal of the contest at 6:15. Lauren Mack and Distad provided assists on the play, which provided Goldsworthy with a hat trick – all on the power play.

Andover managed to outshot the Skippers 31-21 in the game, but Minnetonka goalie Ashlyn Hackett earned the win in goal with 28 saves. On special teams, Minnetonka was 5-of-13 on the power play and 4-of-4 on the penalty kill.

Consolation: Three power-play goals in the second period sent Maple Grove to a 4-1 victory over Roseau in the consolation final at TRIA Rink in St. Paul. In that first period, Maple Grove and Roseau traded goals with the Crimson’s Grace Erickson opening the scoring at 1:50 with an unassisted goal. Roseau’s Jasmine Hovda tied the score at 10:43 of the first period with an unassisted shorthanded goal.

Maple Grove broke the game open in the second period with its special teams play that started with a power play marker and eventual game winner by Erickson at 4:44 with a solo assist going to Hadley Bakker. Maple Grove finished the game with 3 of 8 rate with 14 shots on the power play and was 2-of-2 on the penalty kill.

The Crimson’s Cate Fischer extended the lead to 3-1 with her power play goal at 4:59 that included assists from Bakker and Madeline Elfstrand. To complete the day, Elfstrand scored on the advantage with assists from Erickson and Kelsey Olson at 5:20 of the second to finish the scoring at 4-1.

Dani Storm was the goaltender of record for the Crimson with 24 saves in the contest as Maple Grove owned a 33-25 edge in shots on goal during the game.