State Girls Hockey: Orono takes step toward Finals return w/ 4-1 Class A quarterfinal win over Willmar

Orono vs Willmar Class A Quarterfinal Highlights 2-21-24

In its third consecutive appearance in the Minnesota State High School League’s Class A, Orono High School took its first step toward a return to a championship berth with a 4-1 victory over Willmar in the first quarterfinal of the 2024 Girls Hockey State Tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Spartans, the Section 5A champion with a 21-6-1 record this season, were the runner-up at last year’s Class A state tournament and they made a strong statement in its opening round game against Willmar (20-8-0).

Click the video box on this page to watch extended highlights of Orono vs. Willmar in the Class A Girls State Hockey Quarterfinals

The Spartans scored two goals in the opening period and went on to take a 3-0 lead in the third period before Willmar broke the shutout with its lone goal in the third. In the contest, Orono dominated the scoresheet as it outshot Willmar, 39-11.

Orono’s offense was rewarded at 8:37 with an unassisted even-strength goal by Maddy Kimbrel and then stretched it to 2-0 with another unassisted even-strength goal in the closing minute of the first period by Zoe Lopez at 16:31. Of note, this was Lopez’ 24th goal of the season.

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After a scoreless second period, Orono returned to the scoring column with a goal by Anika Fortin at 1:35 of the third period with assists from teammates Alex Christian and Alex Paulson.  Willmar notched its lone goal of the contest at 6:47 of the third as Lauren Eilers scored on an assist from Avery Olson.

To complete the victory, Orono posted an empty-net goal by Grace Brickett at 16:24 with an assist from Fortin. 

On special teams, Orono was 3 of 3 on the penalty kill while Willmar was not called for a penalty in the contest.  Vivienne Anderson was Orono’s goalie of record in the game with 10 saves to her credit.

Orono advances to the Class A semifinals at the Xcel Energy Center at 11:00 a.m. on Feb. 23.  Willmar, which is making its fourth state tournament appearance this season, will advance in the consolation bracket and play next at the TRIA Rink in St. Paul on Thursday, Feb. 22 at Noon.

Courtesy: Minnesota State High School League