Andover forward Sara Kaiser knocked in the winning goal Saturday, breaking a tie with 1:40 left. Photos by ALEX KORMANN, Star Tribune
For the Andover girls’ hockey team, perfection required persistence.
The top-rated team in Class 2A all season, the Huskies weren’t accustomed to allowing more than two goals or trailing after two periods.
Pushed by Minnetonka, Andover shoved back. A pair of third-period goals secured a 5-4 victory, a state title and a 30-0 record.
A year ago, Andover entered the state championship game undefeated but fell to Edina. Returning players vowed to create a different outcome Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.
“I’m just so proud of them,” Huskies coach Melissa Volk said. “From the get-go, they’ve worked their tails off and have believed in each other.”
Senior forward Sara Kaiser scored with 1:40 to play to break a game knotted 4-4 since a little more than three minutes into the third period. That’s when Andover’s Madison Brown buried her second goal of the game, this one on the power play.
No. 3 seed Minnetonka (24-7) had built a 4-3 lead in a similar manner. Ava Lindsay scored her second power-play goal of the game to put the Skippers ahead for what turned out to be the last time.
“It was a state championship game,” Skippers coach Tracy Cassano said. “It had everything — good tempo, it was intense, fierce, physical. Both teams poured their hearts out today, and unfortunately we came out on the losing end of things. But I really felt it could have gone either way. There were a lot of momentum swings in the game.”
Ella Boerger swung first. First shift. First shot. Her 30th goal of the season put Andover ahead just 15 seconds into the game.
Boerger’s linemates co-authored the second Huskies goal. Brown took a pass from Isa Goettl before sending the puck back for Goettl to fire home at 13:18 of the opening period.
Dazed but undeterred, Minnetonka cut its deficit with a Lindsay power-play goal. She blasted a puck at goalie Courtney Stagman, and for the second consecutive night, Stagman made the initial save, only to have the puck bounce over her head, off her back and into the net.
Second-period goals from the Skippers’ Grace Sadura and Kendra Distad ensured the energy stayed with Minnetonka into the second period.
Trailing 3-2, Andover received a lift from Boerger’s dogged stick work. She took three whacks at a loose puck in the Minnetonka crease, finally lifting it over goalie Sophia Johnson for the tying goal.
Though Andover would once again lose its lead, Brown and Kaiser assured all was not lost.
“It’s always fun playing against good teams,” Goettl said. “I honestly think it’s more fun playing in those high-scoring games because it’s so close. During the game it’s not that fun, but afterward it always feels great.”
1. Sara Kaiser, Andover senior: She scored the championship-winning goal with 1:40 left in regulation.
2. Ella Boerger, Andover junior: Her 30th goal of the season gave the Huskies a 1-0 seconds into the game, and she tied it 3-3 with a power-play goal in the second period.
3. Ava Lindsay, Minnetonka junior: She scored two goals and had two assists.
Seconds into the game when Andover’s Ella Boerger, who wears jersey No. 15, scored the game’s first goal. It was the fastest goal to start a Class 2A girls’ state championship game. In 2015, Minnetonka scored 21 seconds in but lost 2-1 to Hill-Murray.
Division I-committed players in the 2A championship game — five for Minnetonka and two for Andover.
Thursday night: 1,548