A strong second-period push by Mounds View had undefeated Hill-Murray on its heels.
The back-to-back Class 2A state champions allowed a goal and committed three penalties in the second period of the Section 4 final Thursday night in Roseville, and were up only 2-1 heading into the third.
But the Pioneers were able to turn things around quickly. Junior forward Lindsey Featherstone scored 33 seconds into the third period and Hill-Murray (25-0-1) advanced to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year with a 3-1 victory.
Hill-Murray was called for four penalties on the night, but its penalty kill didn't allow a goal.
"The kids were all amped up, and they were pretty aggressive on a few of those penalties," Pioneers coach Bill Schafhauser said. "But we've been outstanding on the penalty kill all year. When it counted the most, we were really good at it."
The Pioneers scored two goals and outshot Mounds View 17-4 in the first period.
Junior forward Erica Steigauf made it 1-0 with less than five minutes to go in the opening period, shooting the puck into the top right corner of the net. Two minutes later senior forward Taylor Henthorne scored from right in front of the crease.
The Mustangs were ready to fight back at the start of the second, nearly scoring on the first shift, but Hill-Murray goaltender Ava Bailey held on for the save. After the subsequent faceoff though, Minnesota Ms. Hockey finalist Sydney Brodt was able to score and make it a one-goal game.
Mounds View (15-9-4) had a few chances later in the period on the power play, but in the final intermission Schafhauser was able to calm his team down and steer it to a section title.
"[He talked about] moving your feet, playing hard … setting the pace strong," Henthorne said. "And I think we really did that in the third."