Hill-Murray and St. Thomas Academy advanced to play for the Gold Division title in the Schwan Cup.
Mixed and matched with different teammates for the season opener against Burnsville, Hill-Murray's recently assembled top line showed in Thursday's rematch that they belong together.
Center Josh French and wingers Zach LaValle and Mitch Slattery combined for four goals in the Pioneers' 7-2 romp against the Blaze in the Schwan Cup Gold Division semifinal at Ridder Arena.
Hill Murray will face two-time defending Class 1A state champion St. Thomas Academy in the Gold Division final at 8 p.m. Friday at Ridder Arena.
The Cadets edged the Pioneers 2-1 on Dec. 15.
In Thursday's semifinal victory, French and Slattery each scored as the Pioneers, ranked second in Class 2A, opened up a 3-0 lead against No. 10 Burnsville in the first period. LaValle gave his team a 5-0 lead with two goals scored less than two minutes apart in the second period.
This was the fourth time in the past five games the Pioneers (10-1) have scored six or more goals -- about the same span of time the top line has been united. Hill-Murray previously defeated Burnsville 2-1 on Nov. 29.
"It's encouraging," Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner said. "We wanted to see where our game has taken us, and I was proud of the guys early. We held a pretty good team down."
Burnsville (6-4) missed its best chance to fight back during the second period on a point-blank backhander from Cole Borchardt. Pioneers goaltender John Dugas held Burnsville without a goal until the third period.
"Our effort wasn't there the first two periods," Blaze coach Janne Kivihalme said. "You give a team like that time and space and they will capitalize on it."
Lechner credited his guys for rising to the challenge of high-level hockey during the Christmas break. The Pioneers started strong as French scored at 2:48 of the first period. A goal from Slattery at 9:36 and another from Willie Brown at 15:18 kept the momentum.
"We came out right away and got a lead and just tried to keep it going," Slattery said. "It was nice to see that we improved on what we did earlier this season."
St. Thomas Academy 2, Breck 1: For the Cadets, a big game means a tight game.
St. Thomas Academy (8-1) broke open a scoreless game with two quick second-period goals but was forced to sweat out a one-goal victory against the Mustangs in the second Gold Division semifinal.
"We've had a lot of one- or two-goal games against the best teams," Cadets co-head coach Greg Vannelli said. "We've played solid team defense and gotten good goaltending."
The Cadets, ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, got a goal from Matt Perry at 5:04 of the middle period, then went ahead 2-0 as Christiano Versich scored on the power play 1:46 later.
Breck (5-2), No. 4 among the small schools, cut the lead on Jack O'Connor's goal with 2:24 left in the period.
"We told the kids not to give up and they didn't," Breck coach Les Larson said.
|NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda||0||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison||2|
|Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer||3||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale||6|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront||5||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson||1|
|Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon||2||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley||3|
|Minnesota||1||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Philadelphia||6||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Miami||4||Bottom 8th Inning|
|Boston||0||Top 7th Inning|
|Cleveland||1||Top 7th Inning|
|Detroit||5||Top 7th Inning|
|Texas||0||Bottom 8th Inning|
|Colorado||1||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Chicago Cubs||1||Top 4th Inning|
|Los Angeles||0||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Milwaukee||0||Top 2nd Inning|
|Oakland||0||Top 2nd Inning|
|Washington||2||Bottom 1st Inning|
|Green Bay||9/4/14 7:30 PM|
|(6) Jacksonville St||7||FINAL|
|(8) Michigan State||45|
|(5) Ohio State||34||FINAL|
|(17) Notre Dame||48|
|(10) South Dakota St||18||FINAL|
|Liberty||29||4th Qtr 7:00|
|(23) North Carolina||49|
|Louisiana Tech||3||3rd Qtr 10:40|
|Stephen F Austin||10||3rd Qtr 8:55|
|(20) Kansas State||35|
|Fresno State||7||3rd Qtr|
|Southern Miss||0||3rd Qtr|
|Texas-El Paso||24||2nd Qtr 2:20|
|North Texas||0||2nd Qtr 1:20|
|(1) Florida State||17||2nd Qtr 4:05|
|(14) Wisconsin||0||1st Qtr 9:45|
|South Dakota||9:30 PM|
|(25) Washington||9:30 PM|
|Utah State||8/31/14 6:00 PM|
|SMU||8/31/14 6:30 PM|
|Miami-Florida||9/1/14 7:00 PM|
|Arizona||9/4/14 7:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/5/14 6:00 PM|
|Washington St||9/5/14 9:30 PM|
|SMU||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Fla Atlantic||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Buffalo||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(24) Missouri||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Arkansas State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(8) McNeese State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Central Mich||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Akron||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ill||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(20) Kansas State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(4) Oklahoma||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ky||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|SC State||9/6/14 11:30 AM|
|Navy||9/6/14 12:00 PM|
|UAB||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|South Alabama||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|Colorado||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|(1) Eastern Wash||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|(15) USC||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Ohio U||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Northern Ill||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Missouri State||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Ball State||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Maryland||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Eastern Mich||9/6/14 3:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||9/6/14 3:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss||9/6/14 3:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||9/6/14 5:00 PM|
|(8) Michigan State||9/6/14 5:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|San Jose St||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|East Carolina||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Duke||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|(17) Sam Houston St||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Michigan||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(17) Notre Dame|
|Lamar||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M|
|Northwestern St||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|BYU||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Citadel||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|San Diego St||9/6/14 7:00 PM|
|(23) North Carolina|
|Virginia Tech||9/6/14 7:00 PM|
|(5) Ohio State|
|Memphis||9/6/14 9:00 PM|
|Colorado State||9/6/14 9:15 PM|
|Air Force||9/6/14 9:15 PM|
|Oregon State||9/6/14 9:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||9/6/14 10:00 PM|
|Columbus||0||2nd Half 5:00|
|FC Dallas||0||2nd Half|
|Real Salt Lake||9:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||8/31/14 3:00 PM|
|Toronto||9/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/1/14 3:30 PM|
|Brt Columbia||9/5/14 6:30 PM|
|Calgary||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Hamilton||9/7/14 12:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||9/7/14 3:00 PM|