Hill-Murray forward Charlie Strobel (27) celebrated his first goal, scored in the second period, with teammates and fans at Xcel Energy Center. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky • firstname.lastname@example.org
They came in green and black waves, different sizes and skills but a shared determination.
The Hill-Murray Pioneers, overlooked as the lowest-seeded team coming into the Class 2A state tournament, simply outworked all comers. A 4-1 victory against Eden Prairie on Saturday left a third opponent in as many days using the same word to describe Hill-Murray.
“That’s a great thing to hear, especially from opponents,” senior forward Charlie Strobel said. “Our goal has always been to be relentless with the puck. Just give it our everything. We might not be the most talented team out there but we’re going to work the hardest.”
Strobel scored twice and personified his team’s unrelenting style after the game by inadvertently jumping over his team’s victory pile and into the net. The celebration capped the Maplewood private school’s fourth state title and its first since 2008.
Illness threatened No. 5 seed Hill-Murray’s chances to win even before puck drop. Junior defenseman Joey Palodichuk, a Star Tribune all-metro third team selection who made a verbal commitment to Wisconsin, was scratched from the lineup due to mononucleosis.
Assistant coach Pat Schafhauser, who coaches the defense, got the news about 3 p.m. Saturday. He said his confidence in the unit never faltered.
1. Charlie Strobel, Hill-Murray senior forward: Added to the Strobel family state tourney scrapbook — dad Mike and uncle Mark won a title with Hill-Murray in 1991 — by scoring twice against Eden Prairie.
2. Remington Keopple, Hill-Murray, senior goaltender: He stopped 21 of 22 Eden Prairie shots and backstopped a Pioneers defense that played without junior defenseman Joey Palodichuk.
3. Matthew Fleischhacker (below), Hill-Murray, junior defenseman: Part of the stalwart yet weakened defensive corps, he scored the Pioneers’ first goal on a power play.
Hill-Murray defenseman Matthew Fleischhacker (14) celebrated his first period goal with teammates. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky • email@example.com