Dropping the puck
Stillwater’s Jenny Ginkel scores the first goal as the nation’s first girls’ hockey state tournament opens Feb. 24, 1995. The next day ends with Apple Valley’s 2-0 defeat of South St. Paul. The four-team tournament is attended by enthusiastic fans who form deep lines for tickets at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood.
A precocious seventh-grader from Eagan — future Gopher and Olympian Natalie Darwitz — scores nine goals and adds three assists in the first eight-team tournament in 1997. But Eagan falls 6-3 in the title game to Hibbing/Chisholm/Nashwauk-Keewatin, the only outstate team to win a single class girls’ hockey championship.
Krissy Wendell caps a dominant two-year stretch by recording a hat trick for Park Center in its 6-0 victory over Anoka in the 2000 state championship game. Wendell scores a combined 219 goals in two seasons of girls’ hockey — 109 as a junior, 110 as a senior.
Bloomington Jefferson wins its first state title in 2001 with a 2-1 victory over Blaine in the title game. The Jaguars’ Larissa Luther, a forward/defender who switched to goalie midway through her senior season, outduels Blaine goalie Jody Horak, the Star Tribune’s co-Metro Player of the Year.
The tournament splits into two classes in 2002, with eight teams in Class 2A and four in Class 1A. Benilde-St. Margaret’s wins the Class 1A title. South St. Paul, after 27 trips to state by the boys and three by the girls without winning a title, claims the Class 2A title with a 2-1 victory over White Bear Lake.
Eden Prairie ends South St. Paul’s record 86-game unbeaten streak in the 2004 Class 2A quarterfinals.