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State Girls’ Hockey Tournament: Minnetonka back to try to make it three in a row

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     Half of the eight Class A teams that played last year have qualified again, while in Class AA there are only two teams qualified that played last year. Only one team, Mound Westonka in Class A, is making a first tournament appearance.

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      Warroad earned the No. 1 Class A seed for its quest to win its third title. The No. 4 seed is last year’s runner-up, South St. Paul. Third seed The Blake School of Minneapolis defeated Breck School of Golden Valley, the 2012 champion, 6-5 in their section final.

      Minnetonka is the two-time defending champion in only its third appearance and the No. 1 seed in Class AA. Lakeville North, the 2012 fourth-place finisher, is the No. 4 seed.

      This is the 19th state tournament, but only the fifth year that the event has been seeded. It is the seventh consecutive year that eight teams will compete in both Class A and Class AA. Only four teams competed in the 1995 and 1996 state tournaments, and eight teams competed from 1997 through 2001. From 2002 through 2006 only four teams qualified for Class A competition. Two hundred forty-two schools comprised the 122 teams that competed during the 2012-13 regular season — 54 in Class A and 68 in Class AA.

      This also is the eighth year that all championship rounds of the tournament will be played at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. All consolation games will be conducted at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.

      The Class A teams will start play on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m., and the Class AA teams will take to the ice at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21. Championship semifinals in both classes will be played Friday, Feb. 22. The third-place and championship games will be played on Saturday at 9 a.m. and noon for Class A and at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. for Class AA, respectively.

      The seeding process had all 16 coaches of the section champions log onto a special page of the League Web site. Each coach then ranked the other teams one through seven. The highest and lowest rankings for each team were discarded, leaving five rankings for each team. From those rankings, the top five teams were seeded. In conference calls with all eight head coaches of each class, League Associate Director Craig Perry announced the top five seeds. Coaches association representative Ray Dahlof blindly drew three teams to establish the opponent for the top three seeded teams. Numbers four and five will play each other.

      Detailed season statistics provided by qualified teams are available on the League’s Web site — www.MSHSL.org — as a Media Guide link under Tournaments, then Winter, then Girls’ Hockey.

      Class A Quarterfinal Highlights

      Section 6 Alexandria (19-6-2) vs. (No. 2 Seed) Section 1 Red Wing (25-2-0) — 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 20: The Cardinals of Alexandria are making their seventh tournament appearance and seek a second title to accompany their first in 2008. Alexandria lost 6-3 to tournament qualifier Mound Westonka early in the season. Alexandria scored 90 goals to opponents’ 62. Individual statistics were not provided. The Cardinals were ranked 17th in the final Let’s Play Hockey poll. The Wingers of Red Wing are making their third consecutive and fourth overall appearance. They have not won a title. Their only tournament-qualifying opponent this season was The Blake School and they lost 4-2. The Wingers are prolific scorers, netting 168 goals while allowing just 48. Thirty-two of those goals came on the power play, for which the team was 38 percent proficient. Junior Nicole Schammel leads the team with 69 goals and 120 points, both school records. Sophomore Reagan Haley has 88 points, including a team-leading 57 assists. Junior Emily Stegora also has 31 goals and 73 points. Senior Paige Haley has 67 points and is a finalist for the Let’s Play Hockey Ms. Hockey award. Sophomore Ashley Corcoran spends the bulk of the minutes in the net and has made 634 saves, a 93.6 percent save rate. The Wingers were ranked third in the final Let’s Play Hockey poll.

      Section 2 Mound Westonka (19-7-1) vs. (No. 3 Seed) Section 5 The Blake School (19-5-3) — 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 20: Mound Westonka is making its inaugural appearance at the tournament. The White Hawks, ranked 10th in the final Let’s Play Hockey poll, defeated both Alexandria 6-3 and qualifier South St. Paul 4-1. Mound Westonka scored 102 goals to opponents’ 58. Individual statistics were not provided. The Bears of The Blake School are making their sixth appearance and seek their fourth title, having won in 2003, 2007 and 2009. They are 1-2 against other tournament qualifiers; a 4-2 win over Red Wing and 12-3 and 4-0 losses against Warroad and South St. Paul, respectively. The Blake School tallied 153 goals and gave up 66. Senior Dani Cameranesi, the school’s career record holder in all offensive categories, leads the Bears with 90 points on 54 goals and 36 assists, and is a finalist for the Let’s Play Hockey Ms. Hockey award. Sophomore Karlie Lund has 58 points, including a team-leading 37 assists. Junior Alex Lovaas has 36 points. Senior Tori Johnson minds the net and has a .890 save percentage on 559 saves and a 2.53 goals-against average.

      Section 3 New Ulm (14-11-1) vs. (No. 1 Seed) Section 8 Warroad (24-2-1) — 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 20: The unranked Eagles of New Ulm are making their fifth consecutive and overall tournament appearance. They finished sixth in 2012. They did not play any tournament qualifiers this season. The team, which includes students from New Ulm Cathedral, Sleepy Eye, and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s, scored 14 of its 114 goals on power plays this season. Ninth-grader Brook Schugel leads the Eagles with 30 goals and 18 assists. Ninth-grader Brittany Denn supplied 24 goals and 18 assists and junior Lexie Weiss added 19 goals and 20 assists. Junior Julia Schaefer and ninth-grader Bailey Landreville share nearly identical minutes in net. Schaefer has 277 saves for a .882 save percentage and Landreville has 291 saves for a .869 save percentage. The team has two seniors, five juniors, three sophomores, six ninth-graders, one eighth-grader and two seventh-graders. The Warriors of Warroad return in hopes of adding another trophy to sit besides its 2010 and 2011 championship trophies. This is the team’s fifth consecutive and sixth overall appearance and the team finished third in 2012. Warroad was the No. 1-ranked team in the final Let’s Play Hockey poll. Both Warroad losses and one tie came against Class AA teams; 2-1 to defending Class AA champion Minnetonka, 2-1 to Buffalo, and a 1-1 overtime tie with Edina. Warroad defeated two Class A qualifiers, 12-3 against The Blake School and 3-0 against Hibbing/Chisholm. Warroad gave up just 26 goals in 27 games, scoring 157 goals in those games. Senior forwards Lisa Marvin and Kayla Gardner lead the Warriors; Marvin with 86 points; including a team-leading 60 assists, and Gardner with a team-leading 34 goals and 40 assists. Ninth-grade forward Demi Gardner added 25 goals and 33 assists. Senior goaltender Dayton Hilgert has the most minutes and a save percentage of .940, making 410 saves and giving up all 26 goals. Sophomore Danielle Knott is 6-0 in the net and did not allow a goal in 306 minutes.

      (No. 5 Seed) Section 7 Hibbing/Chisholm (18-9-0) vs. (No. 4 Seed) Section 4 South St. Paul (17-7-3) — 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 20: The 12th-ranked Bluejackets of Hibbing/Chisholm are making their ninth appearance and seek their first title. They lost a 4-3 overtime game to South St. Paul on Dec. 29 and also lost 3-0 to Warroad. Hibbing/Chisholm scored 79 goals to opponents’ 60. Both senior Katie Dye and junior Erin Scovill have 11 goals, with Dye adding 21 assists and Scovill adding nine assists. Junior Nichole DeBoom has eight goals and 10 assists. Seven other Bluejackets have accumulated 10 or more points on the season. The Packers of South St. Paul, ranked No. 7 by Let’s Play Hockey, return to tournament action for the fourth consecutive year and their 13th overall appearance. South St. Paul won titles in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006, plus finished second in 1995, 2011 and 2012. During the regular season the Packers defeated The Blake School 4-0, but lost to Hibbing/Chisholm 4-3 in overtime and also were beaten 4-1 by Mound Westonka. South St. Paul scored 85 goals, including 17 power-play goals, while giving up 42. The Packers are led by senior forward Riley Viner with a team-leading 43 points on 13 goals plus 30 assists. Junior forward Brigette Miller has a team-leading 24 goals and 13 assists. Senior defender Lauren Wilcox added 18 goals and 22 assists. Sophomore goaltender Sydney Conley has played the most minutes and has made 455 saves for a .920 save percentage.

      Class AA Quarterfinal Highlights

      Section 7 Forest Lake (15-10-2) vs. (No. 2 Seed) Section 2 Eden Prairie (20-5-3) — 11:00 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 21: The unranked Rangers of Forest Lake are making their second tournament appearance and first since 2001. They did not play any other Class AA qualifiers. Forest Lake did not provide team statistics. Ninth-grade forward Kaitlyn VanTassel leads the Rangers with a team-high 35 points on 11 goals with 24 assists. Junior forward Alexa Bremer has a team-high 12 goals, plus 11 assists. Junior Rachel Skoglund added 19 points, and three players, seniors Lexi Carpenter and Amy Enrooth and eighth-grader Madi Nolan, each contributed 18 points. Senior Abbi White has the most minutes in the net and made 750 saves for a .932 save percentage. The fourth-ranked Eagles of Eden Prairie are making their fifth appearance. They won titles in 2006 and 2008. They defeated tournament qualifier Lakeville North 4-3 in overtime, tied qualifier Hill-Murray 2-2 in overtime. The Eagles are 1-2 against defending champion Minnetonka, winning 4-1 and losing 3-1 and 3-0. Eden Prairie scored 100 goals, including 16 on the power play and three short-handed. Sophomore forward Charly Dahlquist leads the Eagles with 50 points on a team-leading 27 goals and 23 assists. Sophomore forward Angie Heppelmann added 20 goals and 22 assists. Sophomores Allison Koloski and Lauren Boyle contributed 19 points each, and senior Tess Roehl and junior Josie Olson tallied 18 points each. Senior goaltender McKenzie Johnson has seen all but 34 minutes in the net and has made 546 saves for a .907 save percentage.

      Section 3 Eagan (18-9-1) vs. (No. 3 Seed) Section 4 Hill-Murray, Maplewood (19-5-4) — 1:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21: The 15th-ranked Wildcats of Eagan are making their second consecutive and eighth overall appearance. Eagan went two and out in 2012. Their best finish was second place in 1997. They split a pair against Lakeville North, winning 6-3 early in the season and later lost 5-3. The also dropped a 9-1 game to Minnetonka. The Wildcats did not provide team or individual statistics. The Hill-Murray Pioneers, ranked sixth in the final Let’s Play Hockey poll, return to tournament play for the second time. They opened their season with a 2-2 overtime time tie with Eden Prairie. They also tied Lakeville North 1-1 and later defeated Lakeville North 3-1. They were shut out 4-0 by Minnetonka. The Pioneers scored 88 goals while allowing opponents 37. They converted 21 percent of their power-play opportunities for 14 goals. Junior forward Sarah Bobrowski has a team-high 33 points on a team-leading 19 goals and 14 assists. Sophomore Becca Zarembinski added 11 goals and 14 assists, while ninth-grader Kate Smith contributed 14 goals and eight assists. Sixteen different players have accumulated points this season. Senior Alexys Woodward, with 351 saves and a .921 save percentage, and sophomore Leah Patrick, undefeated and with 67 saves and a .905 save percentage, have shared net-minding duties.

      Section 5 Irondale, New Brighton (19-8-1) vs. (No. 1 Seed) Section 6 Minnetonka (24-4-0) — 6:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21: The unranked Knights of Irondale did not play any other Class AA qualifiers and are making their third appearance. Irondale scored 98 goals, nearly 20 percent scored on the power play, and allowed opponents 56. Junior Samantha Donovan has a team-leading 53 points on 27 goals and 26 assists. Junior Alex Toupal has 45 points on 21 goals and 24 assists and ninth-grader Sena Hanson has 25 goals and 12 assists. Sophomore Anna Pate has been in goal for all but about 24 minutes and has 498 saves and a .923 save percentage. The Skippers of Minnetonka, ranked No. 2 in the final Let’s Play Hockey poll, are making their third consecutive and overall appearance. They won titles in each of their previous appearances. Minnetonka defeated Hill-Murray 4-0, defeated Eagan 9-1, and went 2-1 against Eden Prairie, losing 4-1 in mid-season and later winning 3-1 and 3-0. Minnetonka did not provide team or individual statistics. Senior defender Sidney Morin is a finalist for the Let’s Play Hockey Ms. Hockey award.

      (No. 5 Seed) Section 8 North Wright County (23-4-1) vs. (No. 4 Seed) Section 1 Lakeville North (20-6-2) — 8:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21: The unranked River Hawks of North Wright County are making their second appearance. The co-op, hosted by St. Michael-Albertville with 13 players, also includes five players from Monticello and two players from Annandale. The River Hawks did not face any other qualifiers this season. They scored 135 goals and allowed just 37 while recording 11 shutouts. They converted 22 percent of their power-play opportunities for 18 goals. Senior Dani Sibley established a team single-season record with her team-leading 64 points on 36 goals and 28 assists. Senior Rachel Heiber added 18 goals and 26 assists. Senior Maddi Sjelin has 17 goals and 25 assists. Junior Alex Lamere has roughly twice as many minutes in goal and made 404 saves for a .944 save percentage while senior Dayna Duncan has 145 saves and a .918 save percentage. The Panthers of Lakeville North are making their second consecutive and third overall appearance and earned the No. 9 ranking in the Let’s Play Hockey poll. Eden Prairie handed them a 4-3 overtime loss in their season opener. They tied Hill-Murray early in the season and lost to the Pioneers 3-1 later. The Panthers lost 6-3 to Eagan early and later beat the Wildcats 5-3. Of the team’s 125 goals, 27 were scored on power plays for a 38 percent conversion percentage. Junior forward Alexis Joyce leads the Panthers with 49 points on 19 goals and 30 assists, establishing a school record for career points. Junior forward Christi Vetter added 19 goals and 23 assists, while junior defender Dani Sadek contributed eight goals and 27 assists. Fifteen different players have at least five points. Senior goaltender Cassie Alexander has seen the most minutes and has 330 saves for a .884 save percentage.

      Schedule

      Consolation semifinals in Class A will be played at 10 a.m. and noon on Thursday, Feb. 21 at Ridder Arena. The consolation championship will be played at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Ridder Arena. The Class A championship semifinals will take place at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday, Feb. 22 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The third-place game will be played at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 and the championship game will be played at noon, both at Xcel Energy Center.

      In Class AA, the consolation semifinal games will be played at 10 a.m. and noon on Friday, Feb. 22 at Ridder Arena. The consolation championship will take place at noon on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Ridder Arena. The championship semifinal games will be played at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday at Xcel Energy Center. The third-place game will be conducted on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 4 p.m., followed by the championship game at 7 p.m., both at Xcel Energy Center.

      All eight quarterfinal games will be webcast live and free on Prep45.com. The championship semifinals and championship games for both classes will be broadcast live on KSTC-TV, Channel 45, as well as on other broadcast and cable outlets throughout the state. Those televised games will also be streamed live and free by Prep45.com.

      Fans may also follow the games statistically live online by clicking on special links posted on the League Web site – www.MSHSL.org.

      Tickets and Special Promotions

      Tickets for the 2013 State Girls’ Hockey Tournament will be available one hour before each afternoon or evening two-game session at the respective venues. Tickets cost $17.00 for adults and $11.00 for students for all championship sessions, and $12.00 for adults and $8.00 for students for all consolation sessions.

      A visit to any area Wells Fargo bank can yield a $2 discount coupon for students 13 and younger. The discount coupons are also available for Girls’ Gymnastics, Class A Boys’ Hockey, and Girls’ and Boys’ Basketball.

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