Girls Hockey: An impressive run for Totino-Grace, Irondale goes to Xcel

By Ryan Schleicher – Sun FOCUS Newspapers

Unfortunately, they say all good things must come to an end. And that is just the case with the 2012-2013 Totino-Grace girls hockey.

A team that appeared to be gelling at the right time found a way to play through their bracket by earning two hard-fought victories against Simley and St. Paul United on their way to a Section 4A championship showdown against South St. Paul. The Eagles flew right on by sixth seeded Simley High School 4-3 before going into overtime with St. Paul United in the semi-final round, which ended with The Eagles earning a 3-2 victory.

Little did Totino-Grace know that they weren’t done deciding close contests in overtime as they went into double-overtime against South St. Paul in the Section 4A championship game. In the championship game, scoring started early when Nikki Karg scored a goal before three minutes had been recorded in the first period. From there, it was back-and-forth hockey as each goalie stopped shot-after-shot. The 1-0 score held tight until late in the third period when Allison Parnell scored to draw even at 1-1.

From there, fans and spectators were drawn on the edge of their seats as these two teams not only played out regulation, but an entire overtime period, and nearly another overtime period before Brigitte Miller scored a game winning goal to send South St. Paul to the state finals and the Eagles heading home wondering, “what if?”

But Totino-Grace has nothing to hang their head about. The Eagles finished their season with an overall record of 11-14-1, a conference record of 6-5-1, good enough for 13 Conference points. Logan Knipp recorded a team high save percentage of 92 percent. Knipp and Kristina Dellich earned honorary awards for having the most saves and the most skater points (23) over the course of the season.

X-citing times for Irondale

Why could Feb. 21, 2013 be such a big day? Is there no school that day? That depends on who you are what you do. If you’re on the Irondale Girls Hockey team, there’s a possibility your schedule won’t be the same as everyone else’s on Feb. 21.

That’s because an upset of the number-one seeded Mounds View High School, who was shocked by sixth-seeded Irondale, who won 2-1, claiming the section 5AA conference title.

Mounds View was no easy opponent because of the offensive weapons they possess—most notably Kathryn Larson and Syndney Brodt who led the Section 5AA skater points category with seven points apiece. Irondale found confidence in their goalie, who was putting together the third best save percentage throughout the Section 5AA playoffs of 94 percent.

To get to the championship game, Irondale needed help from a couple unknown players to give them the edge over Blaine in the first round 1-0, and Centennial in the semi-finals 6-5. Against Blaine, Jessica Mularie broke through late in the third period on an assist by Alex Toupal to give Irondale the victory. Likewise, in the Centennial match-up, the Knights were able to capitalize on goals from Greta Nundahl and Sena Hanson to secure a victory to head to the Section Championships.

Sena Hanson delivers the game-winning goal to seal a berth to the State Tournament and give Irondale the Section 5AA Championship. (Photo courtesy of Annika Strom)

Sena Hanson delivers the game-winning goal to seal a berth to the State Tournament and give Irondale the Section 5AA Championship. (Photo courtesy of Annika Strom)

Once there, Alex Toupal re-energized the crowd by drawing Irondale even in the third period after being down much of the game to Mounds View. A second period goal by Kathryn Larsen allowed Mounds View to cling onto a one-goal lead heading into the third period. Sena Hanson simply continued her play and found a way to get one in the back of the net late in the third period to put Irondale up by a goal, which ended up being the margin of difference in a 2-1 victory.

The Knights advance to Xcel Energy Center to take on their toughest challenge of the season: Minnetonka, who is seeded number one overall in Class AA. Minnetonka comes from the Lake Conference in which they won with their overall record of 24-4.

Irondale is set to face-off against Minnetonka at 6 p.m. on Thursday night in downtown St. Paul at the Xcel Center.

Ticket prices are $17 for adults, and $11 for students. Individuals also have the option to purchase full ticket books good for every single game, the price on those are $92 for adults, and $60 for students. The girls State Hockey Tournament runs Feb. 20-23.


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