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Irondale girls hockey closes season at state
As the only team in the Class AA state girls hockey tournament that wasn’t the No. 1 seed in its section, Irondale faced a tough challenge last week at the Xcel Energy Center and Ridder Arena. Producing goals proved to be the most difficult task as the Knights suffered a pair of shutouts in the tournament.
Irondale lost 4-0 to Minnetonka, which went on to win its third consecutive state championship, in Thursday’s quarterfinals and dropped a 3-0 decision to North Wright County in the consolation semifinals on Friday.
For Irondale, which was making its third state-tournament appearance in five years, the key was to keep it a low-scoring game but Minnetonka had other ideas.
Minnetonka took control with three unanswered first-period goals, starting with Hannah Behounek’s wrister from the right faceoff circle at 4:40. The Skippers made it a two-goal lead at 7:36 when Diana Draayer followed up Laura Bowman’s rush and knocked the rebound past Irondale netminder Anna Pate. Three minutes later, Maggie Bazany beat Pate with an unassisted goal.
“The first period wasn’t our period but we came back and we definitely showed that we were able to stick with it,” said Pate. “We weren’t going to get too down. We just needed to stay focused.”
Irondale slowed down the Skippers a bit better in the second period, holding them scoreless until late in the period. Minnetonka’s Amy Peterson scored the only goal of the second on the power play with 2:21 left.
Irondale kept Minnetonka off the scoreboard completely in the third period but was still unable to get one past Skippers’ goaltender Sydney Rossman.
“Before the game, our girls were confident but we were nervous,” said Irondale head coach Tom Rodefeld. “We knew we couldn’t make the slightest mistake.”
Pate finished with 22 saves while Rossman turned away all 14 of Irondale shots. The shutout for Rossman was her second in a row in state-tournament play dating back to last year. She shutout Roseville 3-0 in the 2012 state title game.
“We had a great game plan,” said Rodefeld. “The girls executed it perfectly and gave us a chance to win.”
Freshman Sena Hanson, the hero for Irondale in both the section semifinals and the finals after scoring the game-winning goal in both games, led the Knights with five shots on goal against Minnetonka. Madeline Rog added three while Samantha Donovan and Meghan Pieper had two each.
Against North Wright County, Pate made 24 saves while giving up two goals. NWC’s third score was an empty-netter.
Donovan led the Knights with six shots on goal, Hanson had three and Maddie Hentges, Alex Toupal and Rog finished with two each.
Brian Meyers can be reached at email@example.com