Every moment late in a one-goal game is magnified, which explains the Hill-Murray crowd's roar as a puck carrying Eden Prairie's last hopes left the Pioneers' zone.
No. 3 seed Hill-Murray edged No. 2 seed Eden Prairie 2-1 in Friday's first Class 2A girls' state hockey tournament semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Pioneers will play the winner of the second semifinal between No. 1 seed Minnetonka and No. 4 seed Lakeville North. The game was not finished when this edition went to press.
Hill-Murray goaltender Alexys Woodward, who made several saves late in the game, said of seeing the puck pushed to open ice in the final seconds: "It was a big relief. I could finally breathe after that."
Sarah Bobrowski gave Hill-Murray a 2-1 lead, blasting a shot from point-blank range at 2:37 of the third period. The Pioneers held their edge from there.
"I was really proud of how we fought down the stretch," Hill-Murray coach Bill Schafhauser said. "The grit level was really high."
Charly Dahlquist put Eden Prairie ahead 1-0 at 6:27 of the first period, breezing into the Hill-Murray zone and sending a puck over Woodward. Kenzie Prater tied the score 1-1 with a power-play goal at 7:38 of the second period.
"The timing of that was huge," Schafhauser said. "We go down two and our youth begins to show."
With a combined five seniors between the two teams, the game would go to whichever talented group of youngsters could seize the moment.
"They took us off our game," Eden Prairie coach Jaime Grossman said. "They were physical with us and took away our speed."
DAVID LA VAQUE