Less than 24 hours into the new year, Hill-Murray’s girls’ hockey team added a new trophy to its collection.
A 3-1 victory Wednesday against South St. Paul gave the Pioneers their first Kaposia Classic tournament title. Sophomore forward Kenzie Prater scored twice as the Pioneers won their ninth consecutive game and third in as many days.
“We always say you’ve got to be able to win three in a row at the end,” said coach Bill Schafhauser, who led the Pioneers to a runner-up finish in last season’s Class 2A state tournament. “This tournament gave us really hard battles all three games, physically and mentally.”
Quickness and defensive pressure helped Hill-Murray (No. 6, Class 2A) win the 19th annual Kaposia Classic, held at South St. Paul’s Wakota Arena. Neither team scored in the first period, but Hill-Murray’s 10-1 advantage in shots on goal set a tone.
The Pioneers got special-teams goals in the second period from Jac Kaasa and Prater. Taking a pass behind the Packers’ defense, Kaasa streaked in alone and buried a power-play goal for a 1-0 lead.
Prater made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal owing to her determination and deft hands. She won a game of keep-away with several Packers skaters, passed the puck to teammate Brittney Anderson and then got it back just inside the South St. Paul zone.
Packers goaltender Sydney Conley came out and dived headfirst to challenge. But Prater slid right with the puck and tapped it into the open goal. Returning to the Pioneers’ bench, Prater said teammates “were all like, ‘Oh, Kenzie, that was so sick.’ ”
South St. Paul (No. 5, Class 1A) coach Dave Palmquist called the goal “a backbreaker.”
Prater made it 3-0 in the third period with her fifth goal of the season.
“Kenzie’s a special player,” Schafhauser said. “She plays with so much passion and intensity.”
South St. Paul senior forward Brigette Miller scored just the 11th goal Hill-Murray has allowed during its nine-game surge.
“They’re so quick to loose pucks, and they’re just so good defensively,” said Palmquist, who saw his team’s eight-game winning streak snapped. “We knew were going to have limited chances.”