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Hill-Murray returns to state after a year away

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune, 03/03/12, 2:22AM CST


The Pioneers, who flopped in 2011, "got it done this year." Maple Grove also advanced, by routing Blaine.

The Hill-Murray Pioneers celebrate their 3-2 hockey win over the Roseville Raiders at Warner Coliseum in Falcon Heights March 2, 2012.

Hill-Murray's triumphant boys' hockey team found its locker room celebration delayed because someone forgot to unlock the door.

Taking a year off from nearly annual success in the Class 2A, Section 4 playoffs got the program off its rhythm. Five consecutive section championships and ensuing trips to the state tournament ended last season in a double-overtime upset loss to White Bear Lake.

All accounts were squared Friday as the No. 9 Pioneers' held off an inspired Roseville team for a 3-2 victory at the Warner Coliseum.

"Last year was such a disappointment," Hill-Murray senior forward Charlie Sampair said. "I'm just so glad we got it done this year."

The teams traded goals in the first period. Pioneers defenseman Blake Heinrich scored from the point. Roseville's Robb Stautz tied it 1-1 with 21.1 seconds to play.

Sampair restored Hill-Murray's lead at 12:10 of the second period when he slammed home a pass from cousin Conrad Sampair.

Jake Guentzel put Hill-Murray ahead 3-1 in the third period, but Roseville kept grinding. Tom Bartel's goal late in the third period made the game's final moments tense.

"We weren't intimidated," Pauletti said. "Our defense was good, and our goalie was great."

Goalie Zach Larson kept Roseville competitive in its first section title game appearance in 10 years.

Maple Grove 15, Blaine 1: Members of Blaine's student section wore togas for Friday's Class 2A, Section 5 championship game against Maple Grove.

The attire was fitting as Rome burned.

Blaine came into Friday riding a modern-era standard for consistency with six consecutive trips to the state tournament. The past two were finalized with section final victories over Maple Grove. But the Bengals run ended with a thud.

No. 3 Maple Grove scored four goals in the first four minutes and thundered to a 15-1 victory. The Crimson was looking for its first state tournament appearance and secured the trip with a 6-0 lead after one period.

A five-minute major penalty called on standout Blaine defenseman Michael Brodzinski for checking from behind just 19 seconds into the game provided Maple Grove an opening.

The Crimson (24-2-2) pounced, scoring four goals in as many minutes to grab control of the game.

"Once we got two then three we just wanted to keep rolling," forward Tony Paulson said. "It almost came easy from there because they were so down."

Maple Grove's Shane Wolden drew a five-minute major for boarding later in the first period, but Blaine could not mount an attack. The Crimson pushed the Bengals even farther down as forward Spencer Bell scored shorthanded. He finished with four goals.

"They were way better than we were tonight," Blaine coach Dave Aus said. "Once you give them four goals, the game is pretty much over because we needed to win a 4-3 type of game."

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