Class AA Girls Hockey State Quarterfinal: Minnetonka 3, Centennial/Spring Lake Park 2
Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2023 - 7:50 PM
Minnetonka, the Class AA girls hockey state runner-up a year ago, opened the 2023 state tourney with a narrow 3-2 victory over Centennial/Spring Lake Park in the AA quarterfinals on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.
The top-seeded Skippers (26-2) advanced to Friday night’s semifinals against the winner of the final game of the day between fifth-seeded Moorhead and fourth-seeded Gentry Academy. Unseeded Centennial/Spring Lake Park (21-6-1) will meet the loser of that game in Friday’s consolation bracket at TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center.
Ava Lindsay got Minnetonka on the board with an even-strength goal 47 seconds into the first period on assists by Grace Sadura and Josie Hemp. That’s how the opening period closed, with the Skippers holding an 11-5 advantage in shots on goal.
The second period appeared to be headed toward a scoreless finish before Minnetonka took a 2-0 lead with three seconds remaining. Lindzi Avar got the even-strength score on an assist by Lauren Mack. Through two periods, the Skippers had piled up 30 shots on goal to nine for Centennial.
Centennial never wavered, scoring its first goal on a flick from the high slot by Lauren O'Hara at 7:53 of the third period off an assist by Teagan Kulenkamp.
Centennial went on a power play with 1:45 remaining in regulation, pulling the goaltender for a six-on-four advantage. The strategy paid off with 1:14 left in the third period when Grace Laager scored on an assist by O'Hara for a 2-2 deadlock. But with 42 seconds to go, Avar gave the Skippers a 3-2 lead on a quick shot from the left circle. Josie Hemp, who flipped the pick to Avar from behind the net, got the assist.
Minnetonka goaltender Layla Hemp stopped 12 shots. For Centennial, Kaitlin Groess had 40 saves.
The Skippers’ only losses this season came against Andover (4-3) and Edina (3-0). Thursday’s win gave them a 10-game winning streak.
Minnetonka is playing at state for the ninth time, winning championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and finishing as state runner-up in 2015 and 2022. The Skippers were defeated by Andover 5-4 in last year’s championship game, and both teams have advanced to Friday night’s semifinals.
Centennial has played at state four times previously, finishing as state runner-up in 2018.