Blaine and Hill-Murray meet at 6 p.m. Friday in the semifinals, a rematch of a 4-4 tie on Jan. 26 that Pioneers coach Bill Schafhauser called pivotal to his team’s growth.
Blaine took a 3-0 lead in the second period and looked poised for a lopsided victory.
“We had a tough start against them,” Schafhauser said. “Quite frankly, they were taking it to us pretty good. And then we got a goal and we realized we could match that intensity and speed.”
Hill-Murray erupted, scoring four consecutive goals and holding a 4-3 lead with less than four minutes to play. Blaine’s Emily Brown tied the score, but that didn’t diminish the Pioneers’ satisfaction.
“For us it was kind of a turning point in the season,” Schafhauser said. “We saw we could battle with anybody.”
From ice to behind bench
First-year coach Sami Reber was part of the first Edina girls’ hockey team to make it to state in 2009. They finished third and two times as the runner-up before she graduated in 2011. She was a top-10 Ms. Hockey finalist and went on to play for Harvard.
“It’s a little different being on the other side of things, but I just remember how awesome of a thing this was to be participating in, and just to not take it for granted,” Reber said.
The tournament is all about having fun and playing loose, she said.
Making a difference
A team pledge to “Make a Difference” in the lives of others saw the Blaine girls’ hockey ream rack up assists off the rink all season.
Players bonded through service, whether volunteering their time to work with younger hockey players, picking up hallway trash rather than walking past, making cookies for the Blaine Police Department or spending time with White Pine Senior Living residents. Senior Kenzie Wylie even bought coffee for a homeless man.
“It’s been making us closer as a team,” senior Paige Beebe said.
Players wrote down their daily acts of goodwill on paper strips, then pinned them to a wall and discussed them after practice.
“Making a difference in the lives of people became our goal,” Blaine coach Steve Guider said. “This is such an unbelievable group of kids. I can’t be more proud.”
A total of 6,265 fans attended the Class 2A quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, with 3,511 coming for the afternoon session and 2,754 showing up for the evening. Attendance thus far (not including consolation games at Rider Arena) in the tournament is 10,074.