Minnetonka's Carolyn Draayer went flying in the air as she was going for the puck. Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune
Minnetonka’s girls’ hockey team earned its reputation for staunch defense all season. But Friday’s 4-1 victory against Coon Rapids served notice the Skippers can play some offense.
Three first-period goals gave No. 1 seed and top-ranked Minnetonka a lead No. 4 seed Coon Rapids would not challenge. The Skippers advanced to Saturday’s Class 2A championship game against Lake Conference rival and No. 2 seed Edina. The Skippers had a tie and a victory against the Hornets this season.
“We really put it on them in the first period,” forward Paige Baldwin said.
Baldwin and Minnetonka’s group of solid but unheralded forwards stole the spotlight from Rachael Bona of Coon Rapids, who entered the game with hat tricks in four consecutive playoff games. But rather than defend Bona, the Skippers attacked the Cardinals net.
“Our game plan was to keep the puck in their zone,” Minnetonka coach Eric Johnson said. “We felt if they couldn’t get the puck, [Bona] couldn’t get it either.”
Carolyn Draayer opened the scoring at 2:53, and Baldwin added two goals within the next six minutes of play. Fellow forward Amy Petersen assisted on all three goals.
“That was not a hole we wanted to dig,” Cardinals coach Jessica Christopherson said. “We were praying for the first period to end. But to this team’s credit, the team that walked into the locker room was not the same that walked out.”
After getting outshot 17-3 in the first period, the Cardinals regrouped. Johnson said the Cardinals “outplayed us by a large margin in the second.” Bona got a few good looks at the net, and Coon Rapids posted an 11-8 edge in shots.
But Minnetonka converted the shot that mattered. Draayer’s second goal, scored at 15:31 of the period, gave the Skippers a commanding 4-0 lead. “We felt we had established a good forecheck and were doing some good things,” Christopherson said. “That goal kind of deflated the balloon.”`
The Minnetonka senior netted a pair of goals against Coon Rapids to lift the Skippers into the Class 2A championship game.
Q We heard about [Rosemount’s] Rachael Kelly, we heard about [Coon Rapids’] Rachael Bona heading into this state tournament – did Minnetonka’s forwards get overlooked and were you looking to make a name for yourself?
A I guess a little bit maybe but we kind of play a team offense. So it was real important that we brought every line – all three – strong. That was always our goal.
Q What kind of buzz did putting Coon Rapids into a 3-0 first-period hole create?
A It definitely gave us a lot of momentum. We respect their team and we knew they had a lot coming back at us so it was really important that we got that first step up to get us going.
Q Looking ahead to the championship game with Edina, who has the edge?
A I’d say head-to-head we’re pretty even just because we both have momentum from our semifinal games. It will be a good match-up and we’re really excited.