MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s one of the most fun times of the year to be a high school sports fan.
Tonight is section championship Friday in girls hockey, where some teams will realize their season goal of getting to the state tournament. Others will head to the locker room devastated, wondering what might have been after losing in the section title game.
Many section champions were also crowned Thursday night. Games are filled with emotion, intensity and great moments when everything is on the line. With that in mind, we previewed four of tonight’s section championship games.
Girls Hockey Section 5AA: Mounds View (20-6-1) vs. Blaine (14-10-3)
A trip to the Class AA State Tournament is on the line Friday night as Blaine takes on Mounds View for the Section 5AA title at Roseville Ice Arena. It’s a rare No. 3 seed against a No. 5 seed between two teams who didn’t face each other in the regular season. It’s also our featured match-up for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
The Bengals, the No. 5 seed, stunned top-seeded Anoka 3-1 to earn a trip to the section championship game. The Mustangs beat Andover 5-1 on the other side of the bracket. Blaine finished in the middle of the Northwest Suburban Conference race at 9-8-1 and Mounds View was second in the Suburban East Conference behind Roseville with a 14-3-1 record.
The Bengals are led by the trio of Kiersten Falck, Brittney Thunstrom and Sam Swanstrom. The Mustangs, who have won six of their past seven games, are paced by Maddie Peake, Lindsay Wolter and Lauren Klein.
Section championship games are always intense, exciting and usually go down to the wire, especially when a trip to the Xcel Energy Center is on the line. I’ll take Mounds View in a close one.
Girls Hockey Section 4AA: Roseville (23-2-2) vs. Hill-Murray (25-2)
Section championship games are always exciting, but it’s even better when they feature two of the top teams in the state. No. 4-ranked Roseville faces No. 1-ranked Hill-Murray Friday night at Aldrich Arena. The Pioneers won the Classic Suburban Conference this season, led by Hannah Brandt, who is a scoring machine for Hill-Murray. Roseville, one of the high-scoring teams in the metro, is paced by Kate Flug in scoring. It’s almost a shame that these two powerhouses face each other in a section final, meaning one highly-ranked team won’t be at the state tournament. I’ll take the Pioneers in a close one.
Girls Hockey Section 4A: Simley (15-10-2) vs. South St. Paul (19-7)
A pair of Classic Suburban Conference rivals will face off Friday night at St. Thomas Ice Arena for the Section 4A title as Simley faces South St. Paul for a state tournament berth. The Packers will try to do something Friday night that’s tough for any in-conference opponent: Beat them three times in a season. South St. Paul has already defeated Simley 6-2 and 8-0 in regular season meetings. The Packers are also hungry to get back to the state tournament after losing to Warroad in last year’s state championship game. I’ll take South St. Paul in this one.
Girls Hockey Section 2AA: Chaska/Chanhassen (20-6-1) vs. Edina (17-4-6)
Missota Conference champion Chaska/Chanhassen has a tall task Friday night when it faces No. 5-ranked Edina at Bloomington Ice Garden for the Section 2AA title. The Hornets are a perennial hockey power and will be looking to get back to the state tournament after losing to Minnetonka in last year’s state championship game. The Storm Hawks are a team on the rise and are not to be overlooked. They’ve also won nine of their past 11 games, while Edina is unbeaten in six of its past seven games. Edina won a pretty close 2-0 battle when the two teams squared off earlier this year. I’ll take Edina to get back to the state tournament, but tonight should be another great match-up.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered.