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New coach, same result: St. Thomas Academy heads back to 2A state tournament

By NATE GOTLIEB, Special to the Star Tribune, 02/27/20, 8:45PM CST


The Cadets defeated Burnsville 2-0 to win their fourth consecutive Section 3 title and first under coach Trent Eigner.

St. Thomas Academy's Tommy Aitken (30) makes a skate save on a deflection in front of the net against Burnsville Thursday night. Aitken had 29 saves in the Cadets 2-0 victory over the Blaze at Braemar Arena. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

St. Thomas Academy forward Will Soderling corralled a pass from defenseman Nick Owens just inside the Burnsville blue line, wound up his stick and paused.

Soderling wanted to wait to shoot until the Burnsville defender in front of him slid past, he said after the game. The move worked. His slapshot found the back of the net, and the goal proved to be all the Cadets needed in a 2-0 victory over the Blaze in the Class 2A, Section 3 championship at Braemar Ice Arena.

“It was kind of a for-real moment,” Soderling said, adding that he didn’t know at first if the shot went it. “When I just heard the crowd going, I was going crazy.”

STA's Will Soderling (14) tries to shed a Burnsville defender in the Class 2A, Section 3 championship Thursday night. Soderling’s second period goal proved to be the game-winner in the Cadets' 2-0 victory over the Blaze. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

First report

A slap-shot goal from Will Soderling and a late empty-netter by Connor O'Brien lifted fifth-seeded St. Thomas Academy to a 2-0 victory over second-seeded Burnsville in the Class 2A, Section 3 championship game Thursday at Braemar Arena in Edina.

Soderling's goal came 4:31 into the second period. O'Brien's goal came with 1:34 to play in the third, after Burnsville had pulled goalie Evan Wittchow to try for the equalizer.

St. Thomas Academy (18-8-2) will make its fourth consecutive state tournament appearance in its first year under coach Trent Eigner. The Cadets upset top-seeded Rosemount 3-1 in the section semifinals.

Burnsville (17-9-2) was looking for its first state tournament appearance since 2016. The Blaze out-shot St. Thomas Academy 12-11 in the first period but didn't generate many chances against the Cadets after that.

Check back later for more on the game.

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