The curtains were closing, the lights shutting off at the Xcel Energy Center, but the Andover girls hockey team wasn’t just yet ready to clear the ice.
This was going to take a couple extra moments to sink in.
The ice quickly became the scene of comebacks from five separate rallies in the span of just over 24 hours, one of which came with a mere 42 seconds left in regulation in the semifinals. Of a lightning-quick overtime winner. Of staring down, then outskating, a three-time defending state champion dynasty in the state finals. Of the historic go-ahead game-winner one-timed home with four minutes left in the regulation. Of the countdown of the final seconds.
Then, finally, the celebration in front of a thunderous hometown crowd, of a long-held dream suddenly transformed reality.
Andover 5. Edina 3.
The Huskies mixed a wealth of talent and heart, with a refusal to give in, to capture the first state championship in school history Feb. 22 in St. Paul, dethroning the Hornets 5-3 in a high-paced Class AA State Championship classic.
Andover set the pace early on, showing no hesitancy in its first time on the state title stage.
But after withstanding early pressure, Edina was presented with a 5-on-3 opportunity midway through the period and quickly capitalized. The Hornets got on the board first with 8:07 left in the period, then converted on the ensuing 5-on-4 25 seconds later to take a 2-0 lead.
A day after answering three separate deficits in a 4-3 overtime semifinal win over Minnetonka, the Huskies displayed no sense of panic, quickly resuming the attack.
The hard work and puck control was finally rewarded late in the period.
Andover’s Madison Kaiser stretched and poked the puck away from an Edina defender at the blue line and onto the stick of a fast-charging Gabby Krause into the zone.
Carrying a full head of steam, Krause fired a shot that deflected up and over the Edina goaltender and skipped across the goal line, cutting the gap to 2-1 with 1:31 left in the first period.
Moments later, Krause held the puck in on an Edina clearing attempt, fed Peyton Hemp in the slot and Hemp slapped a shot home to tie the score at 2-2 with 1:08 left in the first, in a flash leveling the contest into the opening intermission.
The Hornets’ special teams success sprung back into action quickly into the second play, though. Starting the period on the power play, Edina capitalized again, regaining the lead at 3-2 less than a minute in.
Accustomed to playing from behind, Andover was poised to respond just two minutes later.
A long possession in the Edina zone came with several chances out front. The puck was held in at the blue line by Kennedy Little, who slid a pass across to Madison Clough. Clough fired a shot on net that produced a rebound out front, which Tyra Turner buried to once again level the score at 3-3 with 13:59 to play in the second period.
Edina would get two more looks at the power play late in the second, but this time the Huskies were able to kill them off, setting up a tie going into the third.
The Hornets’ sixth power play of the night was shut down with six minutes remaining.
Two minutes after that, the game-winning sequence.
Jamie Nelson fired a wrist shot which was deflected back out, then gathered her own rebound off the wall and carried the puck behind the net. She sliced a quick pass between a pair of Edina defenders onto the stick of Krause’s forehand. Krause immediately zipped a shot low blocker side, sizzled into the far side of the net for a go-ahead goal with 3:59 remaining.
The Andover defense and goalie Amanda Pelkey staved off a late flurry, including an extra attacker after the Hornets pulled their goalie.
Finally, an Edina attempt to move the puck back into the Andover zone was intercepted by Kennedy Little, who passed ahead to Isa Goettl at center ice. Goettl backhanded the puck down ice and it found its way into the net with 29 seconds left, sealing the title win.