Hill-Murray's Henry Eischen (6) scored two goals against White Bear Lake in the Class 2A, Section 4 final on March 2 at Aldrich Arena. Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune
HILL-MURRAY (13-11-4) VS. MINNETONKA (No. 1, 24-2-2), 6 p.m.
Scouting the Pioneers: Though an un-Hill-Murray-like 10-11-4 at the end of the regular season, the Pioneers saw reason for optimism. Coach Bill Lechner cited a 6-0 defeat of Maple Grove, followed by spirited efforts at Duluth Marshall, Elk River/Zimmerman and Moorhead. “We started battling with a young group,” he said. “We started gaining momentum and they started to believe.” A team with only three seniors logging consistent shifts got all three goals and solid goaltending from the sophomore class in the Section 4 championship game upset of White Bear Lake. The Pioneers went 0-4-1 against the tournament field, including a loss to Minnetonka.
Scouting the Skippers: Minnetonka earned the top ranking with a 5-2 victory against Edina in the Schwan Cup. A month later, Edina responded with an 8-2 thrashing of the Skippers. “After that we came together and told ourselves, ‘We’re not unbeatable,’ ” senior forward Luke Loheit said. Since then they’ve won 10 consecutive games, including the rubber match with Edina, under first-year coach Sean Goldsworthy. Clinching its first section title since 2010 required a double-overtime effort against Holy Family. “We’d been through situations like that before in bantams,” Loheit said. “I think that showed against Holy Family.”
Worth knowing: These teams’ last state tournament meeting in 2010, Minnetonka beat the Pioneers 2-1 in four overtimes.
David La Vaque