The power-play backup plan gave Lakeville North a 5-4 overtime victory over North Wright County on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Christi Vetter slapped in a pass intended for teammate Ashley Kloncz to salvage what earlier appeared to be an easy Panthers victory in a Class 2A girls' hockey quarterfinal.
"Any girl who is there to take the shot, it's theirs for the shot ... they're planning for it. You have to be ready at all times," Vetter said. "I'm going to be there 100 percent of the time to back my girls up."
That winning mindset was nearly lost, though, within 71 seconds of the third period's final four minutes. North Wright County scored two goals in that short span to extend the game.
Kaleigh Hamann slid toward the net desperate for a goal that could save the River Hawks' season. While falling to the ice, she found the puck and pushed it into the net to tie the score 4-4 with 2:49 remaining.
Maddi Sjelin scored the first of the two goals on a rebound of Rachel Heiber's shot.
The River Hawks continued to pressure the Panthers after tying the score. Rachel King's and Amanda Dorholt's breakaway nearly gave North Wright County the victory. The pair had no one in between them and Lakeville North goaltender Cassie Alexander, but the Panthers senior stretched out as much as possible to make the save.
"I for sure thought that was the game- winner," Heiber said.
The Panthers' victory sets up a rematch of last year's semifinal, a 2-1 overtime loss to Minnetonka.
Minnetonka prominently displayed the quality it believes will produce a third consecutive Class 2A girls' hockey championship.
A staunch defense advanced the top-seeded Skippers to Friday's semifinals and gave goaltender Sydney Rossman the shutout and plenty of rest in Thursday night's 4-0 quarterfinal victory over Irondale.
The Skippers scored three of their four goals in the first period, then allowed their defense to hold that lead against the unseeded Knights. Hannah Behounek, Diana Draayer and Maggie Bazany scored in the opening period.
"We went into our game focusing on our game plan, not worrying about who we were playing, because anyone can beat anyone on any given day," Minnetonka's Amy Petersen said after collecting a second-period goal and a pair of assists.
Irondale slowed Minnetonka's offense in the second period. Goaltender Anna Pate had 22 stops, highlighted by several impressive glove saves. The stops briefly frustrated Minnetonka, but it continued to put pressure on Irondale's sophomore goaltender.
Her efforts held for 14 minutes of the second period until Petersen finally found a hole. The senior forward floated into the middle without resistance and flung in Minnetonka's final goal.
Irondale's second-period power play failed to give the Knights much of an advantage. Sena Hanson got a single shot off during the two-minute span, while Minnetonka got off three quality shots.
"The first period was not our period," Pate said, "but we came back and stuck with it."
The only thing missing for Irondale, though, was offense.
Eden Prairie's two girls' hockey state championships were won long before current players reached the program.
The Eagles' inexperience concerned coach Jaime Grossman heading into Thursday's Class 2A quarterfinal game against Forest Lake at Xcel Energy Center.
But two early goals set in motion a 6-0 shutout. Josie Olson and Angie Heppelmann scored in the first 3 minutes and 35 seconds. No. 2 seed Eden Prairie outshot Forest Lake 11-1 in the opening period.
"These kids impressed me because they came out the first few minutes and they were dominant," Grossman said. "We got a couple goals that helped us relax but maybe relax too much."
Forest Lake, outshot 35-8 for the game, battled throughout the second period. But goals from Anna Johnson and Charly Dahlquist built a 4-0 Eden Prairie lead. Olson and Heppelmann each added a goal in the third period. Heppelmann, a sophomore, finished with two goals and two assists.
The youthful Eagles, with only three seniors in the starting lineup, kept their poise in all facets of the game.
"Their quickness in transition was so good," Forest Lake coach Ryan Sauter said. "We couldn't handle the puck coming into their zone."
Senior goaltender McKenzie Johnson stopped all eight shots faced and credited teammates for a relatively quiet afternoon between the pipes.
"This was definitely one of our best defensive games," Johnson said. "We got a lot of help from the forwards and I didn't see much action."
DAVID LA VAQUE
Given the rare luxury of shooting on a mostly open net, Hill-Murray's Brittney Anderson and Jessica Bonfe made sure not to miss.
Their third-period goals provided a cushion as the No. 3 seed Pioneers defeated Eagan 6-2 Thursday in their Class 2A quarterfinal game at Xcel Energy Center.
On Anderson's goal at 5:37 of the third, the puck squirted loose from a pileup of bodies in and around the Eagan goal. With much of the right side open, Anderson aimed for the lower corner.
"My heart was racing," Anderson said. "I was just hoping I wouldn't miss the net."
Officials reviewed the play to see if the net was off its pegs and whether a Hill-Murray player entered the crease before the puck before confirming the goal.
On Bonfe's goal at 10:13, Eagan goalie Sophia Lundquist was hugging the post and did not see a quick pass from Becca Zarembinski to a waiting Bonfe.
"I looked up and saw the goalie off to the side," Bonfe said. "I really didn't know what was happening."
Hill-Murray's Jac Kaasa gave her team a 1-0 lead at 3:08 of the first period. Eagan senior Megan Wolfe tied the score 1-1 with a shorthanded goal in the second period.
The goal failed to unnerve Hill-Murray, which pumped in the next three, starting with Sarah Bobrowski's 20th of the season near the end of the second period and continuing with Anderson and Bonfe.
"We probably beat ourselves more than we got beat," Eagan coach Tom Younghans said. "But don't take anything away from Hill-Murray. They outhustled us and beat us to pucks."
DAVID LA VAQUE