By MIKE COOK | Special to the Pioneer Press
PUBLISHED: February 24, 2023 at 9:23 p.m. | UPDATED: February 24, 2023 at 9:24 p.m.
Andover and Edina won the past six Class 2A girls state hockey titles. Edina had four of those, but Andover took two of the past three.
Friday night’s semifinal contest had the feel of a title game. Yet, it only kept the Huskies hopes of a second straight championship alive.
Maya Engler netted the game-winning goal with 3:54 left in regulation, Andover killed off a late power play and the Huskies rallied to beat Edina 2-1.
Seeded second and winners of 14 straight, Andover (27-3-0) gets either top-seeded Minnetonka or No. 4 Gentry Academy in Saturday’s 7 p.m. title game at Xcel Energy Center.
It’s the third time Andover beat Edina this season, also winning 3-0 Nov. 12 and 2-1 Dec. 28.
“We work hard,” said Courtney Stagman, who finished with 19 saves.
Engler took a pass from Hannah Christenson and drove down the left wall. The sophomore cut in at the circle, and from the slot her wrister beat Uma Corniea high to the stick side to complete a third-period rally. It was her 19th goal of the season.
“I’m just happy that we’re going to the championship,” Engler said.
“When you give one of the top players in the state top of the slot against the best goalie in the state. … She came away with it. You can’t give that team time and space, especially one of the top players, and if you do they’re usually going to capitalize on it,” said Edina coach Sami Cowger.
Looking for the equalizer, the Hornets (22-5-2) swarmed on a late power play, but Stagman and the Huskies’ defense kept the puck out of the net, including the goaltender robbing Hannah Halverson late in the Edina advantage.
“I like the big moments,” Stagman said.
To the shock of nobody, Corniea, who made 29 stops, and Stagman were almost wall-like in their respective nets. Both are among the five Senior Goalie of the Year finalists. And the teams were two of the three stingiest when it comes to goals allowed this year: Edina allowed 23 goals in its first 28 games; Andover 32 in 29 outings.
Finally, a break went Edina’s way.
On the power play in the second period, the Hornets upped their pressure with Ellie Chapman able to break the stalemate.
A shot from high in the slot by Tori Anderson hit traffic in front, where Chapman and Loelai Nelson were located. As the puck bounced a bit, Nelson hit it before Chapman’s whack sent the disc into the net.
What Edina did on its third power play, Andover matched.
Ella Thoreson redirected a long wrist shot over the left shoulder of Corniea with 10:37 left in regulation. It was the fourth shot on the power play after the Huskies had no shots in the period’s first five minutes.
“I was unreal. I almost thought I blacked out when it happened. It was crazy,” said Thoreson about her third goal of the season.
Andover coach Melissa Volk said the message after the second period was nobody would feel sorry for the Huskies if they lost. “We just need to bear down, play our style of hockey, start playing with some heart and also have a little bit of fun.”