Girls' State Hockey Tournament: Eagan Beats Hill-Murray in Class AA Quarterfinals

February 22, 2018 05:06 PM

Unseeded Eagan (22-5-2) pulled off the first upset of Thursday, as the upstart Wildcats defeat the No. 3 Hill-Murray Pioneer (24-4-0) 2-1 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Unlike the first game, there was no scoring whatsoever in the opening period of game two resulting in a 0-0 draw after the opening 17 minutes of regulation. The Pioneers managed to put 11 shots on goal in the first period, while the Wildcats tallied seven. However, both Hill-Murray’s Ava Bailey and Eagan’s Maddie Nickle were stellar in the pipes, as they stopped every shot they faced in the opening period. 

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After a scoreless first period, both Eagan and Hill-Murray worked to be the first team on the board in period two. For the Pioneers, that was much easier said than done, as they spent six minutes of the period down a skater thanks to three different penalties. The Wildcats were unsuccessful in their first two power play attempts, but the third time was the charm, as Jenna Ruiz scored a power play goal at 14:03 in the period to give Eagan a 1-0 lead. 

With 23.4 seconds remaining in regulation, the Wildcats added to their lead. With the clock winding down, Taylor Anderson intercepted a pass directly in front of the Pioneer goal. When she took the shot with 23 seconds left, Bailey could only watch the puck sail by her toward the back of the net. 

Thanks to Anderson’s goal, Eagan held a comfortable 2-0 lead over Hill-Murray entering the final period of play. However, the Pioneers wasted no time cutting the lead in half. Four minutes into the third period, Katie Kaufman slid the puck past Nickell, supposedly cutting the Wildcats lead to 2-1 with 13:00 remaining in the period. Upon further review, though, Kaufman kicked the puck and the goal was called off, meaning the score remained 2-0, Eagan advantage.

With 10:13 remaining in the period, though, the Pioneers legitimately cut the score to 2-1. This time, there was no doubt in the goal, as freshman defender Kennedy Morris’ shot sailed past Nickell to the back of the net, but Eagan still held the 2-1 advantage with 10 minutes left in regulation. 

Hill-Murray continued to batter the Wildcats defense and Nickell for the remaining minutes of regulation, trying desperately to score the game-tying goal. Nickell held strong, though, making 13 saves in the third period alone, and the Pioneers outshot 27-14 in the game. All the shooting in the world didn’t matter in the end, though, as the Wildcats upended Hill-Murray 2-1. 

With the win, Eagan advances to Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal game against Centennial-Circle Pines. Hill-Murray will compete in the consolation semifinal against Lakeville South, which will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, February 23 at Ridder Arena.

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