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Pioneers cruise past South St. Paul

By Justin Magill, Sport Ngin, 01/30/14, 1:30PM CST


Hill-Murray concludes perfect conference season with a win against rival Packers

When it comes to playing defense, Hill-Murray senior Brittney Anderson is as steady as they come.

The captain of the No. 4-ranked Pioneers seems to log as much ice time as Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter.

Every special teams situation, every time the opposition's top line is on the ice and in just about every other sticky situation, Anderson gets the nudge on the shoulder from Pioneers' coach Bill Shafhauser to hop over the boards.

"She is just a horse," Shafhauser said. "She plays a lot for us. Power play, penalty kill, against their top lines. Just out there a lot."

Anderson will be the first to admit that she is not one that jumps into the offensive rush as often as she should but of late that is an attribute she is adding to her repertoire.

"It's important for us (defensemen) to be more offensive," Anderson said. "We can open a lot up for our forwards."

Anderson took that to heart in the Pioneers' 3-0 win against No. 8 (Class 1A) South St. Paul on Thursday at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood.

She scored the Pioneers' first goal, the game-winner, in the first period on a wrist shot that beat Packers' goalie Sydney Conley.

Hill-Murray won the draw and got it back to Anderson, who waited just enough for a Packer to clear the lane, then fired a wrist shot toward the net.

"She knows how to be really patient with the puck and wait for that open shot," Shafhauser said. "She also has a really quick release, which is just a great combination to have back there."

Anderson has plenty of obligations in being one of the senior captains. There are responsibilities in keeping order on the team and, as a defenseman, she has to be the rock on the blue line.

But of late Anderson has not been shy in burying some shots in the back of the net.

In the past four games she has four goals and is second among Pioneers defensemen in goals with eight and second in points with 28.

"Brittney (Anderson) has been playing well all season, but has really been something down the stretch," Shaufhauser said. "It's been a lot of fun to watch."

The Pioneers and Packers faced each other for the third time this season, all won by Hill-Murray, so it's fair to say the two state powers are familiar with one another.

There aren't often surprises in conference rivalry games, but the Pioneers were surprised that one goal would give them the victory.

"I didn't think that was going to hold up," Anderson said. "We had to get a few more just in case."

Hill-Murray unloaded 41 shots on goal, which included 21 in the second perod alone.

Conley faced 40 of those, allowing two goals.

Jess Bonfe scored in the second period for Hill-Murray and Kenzie Prater tallied an empty netter in the closing minute.

Pioneers' goalie Leah Patrick stopped all 14 shots she faced for the shutout.

South St. Paul drops to 14-7-2 and will conclude the regular season on Monday against Orono.

Hill-Murray improves to 21-3-0 and finishes the Classic Suburban Conference with a perfect 12-0-0 record. It will conclude the regular season on Saturday against No. 7 Edina.

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