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Edina rides physical defense, skilled offense to another 2A title

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune, 02/24/18, 9:15PM CST


The defending champion Hornets defeated Centennial 2-1, getting the game-winner from Aliyah Lance on a power play.

Edina players celebrated with their Class 2A championship trophy after defeating Centennial on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

For the Edina girls’ hockey team, defending its Class 2A state tournament title started with, well, defending.

The Hornets opened by silencing Brainerd/Little Falls in a shutout, then hushing Eden Prairie’s young standouts in the semifinals. Saturday’s championship game brought Centennial’s Gabbie Hughes and Anneke Linser, the state’s finest offensive tandem.

Top-ranked Edina held them to a dull roar in a 2-1 victory at Xcel Energy Center. Whether choking off shooting lanes, crowding prime scoring areas or maintaining a physical presence, the Hornets earned a second banner.

Edina defenseman Evelyn Adams (10) reached her stick out to steal the puck from Centennial forward Allison Pitlick (13) in the first period. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

First report

Earlier Saturday, the Edina girls’ soccer account on Twitter tagged the girls’ hockey account in a tweet asking about their evening plans, facetiously suggesting a movie theater trip.

Turns out Edina’s skaters had a sequel of their own in which to star. A 2-1 victory against Centennial made the Hornets repeat Class 2A state tournament champions at Xcel Energy Center.

No. 1 seed Edina (27-2-1) mixed physical defense and skilled offense to avenge a 3-2 loss to Centennial on Dec. 22.

Aliyah Lance, one of the eight Hornets’ players committed to a Division I college program, scored the game-winning goal for a second-consecutive game.

No. 2 seed Centennial (25-3-1) tried to become the first team since 2010 other than Hill-Murray or a Lake Conference representative to win a big-school title. Fellow Northwest Suburban Conference teams Maple Grove and Blaine fell short in the past two title games.

The teams were tied 1-1 when Lance converted a power-play opportunity. She raced in and fired the puck over Mackenna Stoterau’s glove at 2:39 of the third period for a 2-1 lead.

Edina’s Emily Oden opened the scoring in the second period. She fired a puck from the right circle that appeared to hit teammate Lolita Fidler, who was positioned for a goaltender screen out front, and deflected into the goal.

But officials gave Oden her 34th goal of the season, this one at 8:38.

Centennial turned to one of its top players for the equalizer. Though failing to score during a brief two-man advantage, the Cougars got a power-play goal from Gabbie Hughes at 14:35. She has 46 goals this season.

Hughes and Anneke Linser won the semifinal game against Eagan with repeated goals from the high slot. Edina crowded the prime scoring area the entire game, often with two defenders.

Check back later for an updated report.

Edina forward Lolita Fidler celebrated after she appeared to deflect a shot by teammate Emily Oden past Centennial goaltender Mackenna Stoterau for a goal (credited to Oden) in the second period. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

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