St. Paul United senior Maggie Connors came into the state tournament with just 10 goals all season. She has five in two state tournament games, including a hat trick Friday in a 4-2 victory over Warroad.
“I’ve been here three times and this is the first year I’ve scored here,” Conners said. “I think that the credit should go to the team, not just me.”
No. 2 seed United (21-6-2) met the No. 3 seeded Warriors (18-9-2) in a rematch of last year’s Class 1A semifinal, which United also won. United got off to a fast start this time, going up 2-0 after the first period on the first two goals from Conners. United also outshot the Warriors 18-4 through the first.
Conners completed her hat trick with 4:49 left in the game to ice the victory.
The Warriors got within a goal twice on goals from Mariah Gardner and Madison Oelkers but couldn’t overcome the rough start.
“Can’t dig yourself a hole against a good hockey team,” Warroad coach David Marvin said.
United used its speed and skating ability to control the game and out-chance the Warriors. They’re a high-quality skating team, coach Nate Mauer said, who added his team didn’t reach the burn-out phase of a certain practice technique like others in the past.
“I try and scare ‘em with bag skates during the week to mentally get them ready,” Mauer said.
It was worth it, according to junior Samantha Burke. United returns to the Class 1A title game after finishing as a runner-up last year to Blake. Another shot at the championship is something they thought about during those bag skates, Burke said.
“That’s always in the back of our minds,” Burke said.
A rematch of last year’s Class 1A semifinal between Warroad and St. Paul United netted the same result. No. 2 seed United prevailed 4-2 over the third-seeded Warriors on Friday at Xcel Energy Center.
United senior Maggie Connors gave her team a 2-0 lead after the first period before completing the hat trick with 4:49 left in the game to put United back in front by two.
The Warriors (18-9-2) made it 2-1 just six seconds into the second period. With Warroad having a 5-on-3 advantage. Mariah Gardner scored her 35th goal of the season with a shot from the slot.
United junior defenseman Bergen Kobienia took the puck the length of the ice a few minutes later for her fifth goal of the season to make it 3-1. The Warriors got within 3-2 in the third before the Connors completed her hat trick.
United (21-6-2) also defeated Warroad 3-1 during the regular season.
United, in its third trip to the state tournament, will play in the Class 1A championship Saturday. The team finished as runner-up to Blake last year and took fourth place in 2014.
Check back later for more on the game.