Friday night, the hockey world is in for a treat as the Minnetonka Skippers and the Benilde St. Margaret's Red Knights will battle for the third time this season. The two top teams in class AA will battle at Parade Ice Garden for the third straight year with the winner advancing the state tournament next week.
Both semi-final games Wednesday took on much the same story line. A team heavily favored, facing a team with a hot goaltender.
A dominant performance from the number one seed and two time defending state champs as the Skippers outshot the Bison 54-18. Senior forward Laura Bowman scored the first of her three goals 2:30 seconds into the contest to give the Skippers a 1-0 lead. The Skippers would score again when Diana Draayer found the puck in the crease and sent it past Buffalo goalie Lindsey Hartfiel.
The Bison closed the gap on the power play when Emily Varner beat Sydney Rossmann to give Buffalo life and more importantly hope as the first period came to an end.
As dominating as the first period was, the Skippers continued to grind and pressure in the second. Outshooting the Bison 22-4 in the period, Minnetonka added a pair of Bowman goals. One on the power play and the other even strength allowing the Skippers to take a commanding 4-1 lead.
They would add another just 18 seconds into the third period when Dianna Draayer scored her second goal of the game and advancing the squad to the section championship game.
The senior Hartfiel made 49 saves in the game.
Chapter two of the night featured the number one ranked team in the state, the Red Knights facing a young Armstrong/Cooper squad in what turned out to be a physical well played contest.
A/C stood their ground and hit the scoreboard first when junior Marissa Odell beat Abigail Miller for the 1-0 lead. It was one of only two shots in the first period for A/C, but they made it count.
Junior Kelly Pannek scored the first of her three goals on the power play to tie the game at a goal each. That would be short lived as two minutes later, Kaylee Druk found the back of the net to put the Red Knights up 2-1.
The score remained the same late into the second period and the game changed when A/C's Stephanie Olsen picked up a hooking call with 2:33 left in the period. BSM capitalized when Brittany Wheeler scored a power play goal pushing the lead to 3-1. Less than a minute later Pannek tallied again crushing what was a brilliant effort by the young A/C squad. The Red Knights added three goals in the third period to make up the final score of 7-1.
Championship part III
Twice this season the Skippers and Red Knights locked horns with each team winning once. Pannek didn't play for the Red Knights in the loss in late December. The first time, the Red Knights shut the Skippers out 3-0 that saw Pannek and senior defenseman Liv Halvorson score in the second period, then Caitlin Reilly scored with the net empty in the third.
10 days later, the Skippers got revenge. Kate McMillan and Amy Peterson scored second period goals for Minnetonka and Halvorson tallied early in the third to make things interesting.
This game marks the third straight year the two teams will battle in the section 6AA championship game. The Red Knights hope the third time is the charm.
Want a state championship game a week early? Friday night will give you exactly that.