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.
|Boston - LP: A. Ranaudo||0||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: C. Morton||4|
|Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison||2||FINAL|
|Baltimore - WP: U. Jimenez||8|
|Washington - WP: T. Roark||3||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: A. Harang||0|
|Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi||1||FINAL|
|NY Mets - WP: B. Colon||9|
|NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda||1||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi||6|
|Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto||0||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta||7|
|Chicago WSox - WP: E. Surkamp||7||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera||5|
|Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber||4||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: N. Tropeano||2|
|Detroit - LP: J. Nathan||3||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: G. Perkins||4|
|Milwaukee - WP: B. Kintzler||3||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: K. Siegrist||2|
|Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren||4||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: T. Matzek||10|
|San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy||2||FINAL|
|Arizona - LP: J. Collmenter||1|
|Seattle - WP: C. Smith||13||FINAL|
|LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli||2|
|Texas - WP: N. Tepesch||6||FINAL|
|Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir||3|
|Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett||4||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy||5|
|Tampa Bay||9/18/14 7:25 PM|
|San Diego||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Dallas||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Washington||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Houston||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Minnesota||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|San Francisco||9/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Denver||9/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Kansas City||9/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Chicago||9/22/14 7:30 PM|
|(5) Auburn||9/18/14 6:30 PM|
|(20) Kansas State|
|Connecticut||9/19/14 7:00 PM|
|Old Dominion||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Troy||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Georgia Tech||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Eastern Mich||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|(11) Michigan State|
|Iowa||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Bowling Green||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Maryland||9/20/14 11:30 AM|
|Tulane||9/20/14 11:30 AM|
|Hawaii||9/20/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||9/20/14 1:00 PM|
|North Carolina||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Army||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Virginia||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|(6) Texas A&M||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Rutgers||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Central Mich||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Utah||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Florida||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Louisville||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Indiana||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|San Jose St||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Texas State||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Massachusetts||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Georgia State||9/20/14 5:00 PM|
|Appalachian St||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Miss State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Northern Ill||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Utah State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Miami-Ohio||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Ball State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|(14) So Carolina||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|(4) Oklahoma||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|Ga Southern||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|UNLV||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|(22) Clemson||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Miami-Florida||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|New Mexico||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|California||9/20/14 9:00 PM|
|Louisiana||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|(2) Oregon||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|San Diego St||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|Toronto||9/19/14 9:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Ottawa||9/21/14 3:00 PM|
Poll: How do you feel about the decision to reinstate Adrian Peterson?