Last year, the Hill-Murray Pioneers lost to the Minnetonka Skippers in the Class AA championship game. This year, it's a different story as Jess Bonfe's two period goals helped set the table for a 5-3 win over the top seeded Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
It was the first ste title for the Maplewood private school and the second meeting this season between the Pioneers and the Red Knights. The two teams played each other on January 25 at the Rec Center in St. Louis Park with Hill-Murray topping BSM 3-2.
It was Bonfe who made the Pioneer fans, dressed in green like the X's seats happy when she scored two straight goals. She went along the left boards, into the face off circle and scored from the right of the red dot. The Hill-Murray junior went top shelf for her second goal, scoring on a pass from Rebecca Zarembinski. But BSM would cut the margin to one as Kelly Pannek scored on a rebound.
The Pioneers would strike twice in the second period with the first goal coming as Red Knight goalie Abby Miller saved Sarah Bobrowski's wraparound and Jac Kaasa, positioning herself on the right of Miller, put the puck in the net. Lindsey Featherstone (no relation to the former North Star Tony) took the initial shot, then Kate Smith had a shot saved by Miller and Featherstone regained possession and scored to put Hill-Murray up by three.
It took only :18 for BSM to score a power play goal as Pannek got a pass from Ali Praua and scored from the left point. Hill-Murray would wrap up their first state title on Rachel Herzog's pass to Bobrowski and she scored a power play goal just inside the right face off circle. The Red Knights got a late goal when Brittany Wheeler from behind the Pioneer net, passed to Pannek in the center slot and she would get her second hat trick of the tournament.
In the third place game, Maddie McGlade scored two goals to lead the Lakeville North Panthers to a 5-1 win over the Eden Prairie Eagles. In the consolation championship game played at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus, Mikayla Goodin's goal with 1:42 left in regulation led the Andover Huskies to a 1-0 win over the Mounds View Mustangs.
Pioneer head coach Bill Schafhauser is no stranger to the Xcel Energy Arena site, playing for Hill-Murray in the 1979 and 1980 state boys tournaments (the 1980 team lost to Grand Rapids in the finals) at the St. Paul Civic Center.
Bella Sutton of Mounds View received the Herb Brooks Award, which goes to the player that sets an example of the traits of the late coach. She showed the gold medal that Brooks won at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY.
Hill-Murray concluded their season 26-3-1. BSM wrapped uptheir season with a record of 27-3-1.
The attendance for the Class AA evening session was 2,040. The Class A afternoon session drew 1,255. Total tournament attendance was 15,094, down from last year's attendance of 17,428.