With her hockey team ahead by one goal with less than a minute left in the state championship game, Andover freshman forward Isa Goettl backhanded the puck from center ice toward an empty Edina net.
During the 3½ seconds of puck travel — an eternity in a hiccup-quick sport — anticipation rose on the Andover bench as dread settled on the Edina side. On the ice, Huskies’ sophomore forward Madison Kaiser followed behind the puck, raising both hands in triumph as it crossed the goal line. She then brought her hands down to her helmet, capturing both the satisfaction and disbelief of a well-deserved accomplishment that once seemed so far away.
Andover’s 5-3 victory brought the program’s first Class 2A state title while also ending No. 1-ranked Edina’s run of three consecutive championships. And this was peak Edina, not a dynasty in decline because of graduation losses or injuries.
But the second-ranked Huskies, in the title game for the first time, never faltered. Even when facing 2-0 and 3-2 deficits.
For ending the season as the Huskies began it, with a victory against vaunted Edina, and for all the success in between, Andover hockey earned the Star Tribune Girls’ Team of the Year honors.
“It was their goal the whole season long to get to that point,” coach Melissa Volk said. “And for them to accomplish that goal was huge for our team and our community.”
Slimy and The Brick, better known as Jamie Nelson and Peyton Hemp, joined Gabby Krause on the Huskies’ formidable top line. The trio served as assistant captains and combined for 77 goals and 92 assists for 169 points, one point off last season’s pace.
Said Volk, “I have yet to see a line move the puck as well as they do.”
Turns out, they were happy to share the glory, too.
None of them scored in a 6-0 quarterfinal victory against Farmington. But the other lines kept the top-scoring team in Class 2A — 6.2 goals per game — on pace. Kaiser scored her 24th goal of the season and junior Madelynn Jurgensen scored two of her line’s three goals. Goalie Amanda Pelkey stopped all 12 shots for her fourth consecutive postseason shutout.
The top line led the way in a 4-3 overtime victory against Minnetonka in the semifinals. Each member scored at least once, highlighted by Krause’s game-winning goal just 18 seconds into sudden death.
That victory brought a rematch with the Hornets, representing Edina, a suburb named a week before the title game by ESPN as the center of the hockey universe in the United States. The Hornets made good on the claim, netting a pair of power-play goals for a 2-0 lead. Krause and Hemp countered to tie the score at the first intermission.
Perhaps the state’s most potent power play struck again as Edina built a 3-2 lead less than one minute into the second period.
Back came Andover, this time on Tyra Turner’s goal.
Krause gave her Huskies their first lead of the game with a goal at 12:58 of the third period on a Nelson assist. Krause was the only top line skater on the ice in the game’s waning moments — a tribute to the Huskies’ total team effort.
Krause, Goettl, Kaiser, Madison Clough and captain Kennedy Little not only turned Edina back, they squashed a hornet with a dagger thrown from about 100 feet away.
The Feb. 22 game headlined a two-game championship session at Xcel Energy Center that drew a record 5,192 fans, and surpassed the hype. Back-and-forth action. Skills for days. Female head coaches who were products of local high school hockey programs on each bench. Andover won a game that will be remembered.
“It was such a great experience,” Volk said. “There were so many great players on display that just showed a lot of grit and desire and love for the game.”
Team roster: Grace Berg, Ella Boerger, Madison Clough, Halle Fields, Isa Goettl, Ashley Grabau, Josie Hemp, Peyton Hemp, Madelynn Jurgensen, Madison Kaiser, Sara Kaiser, Madison Kaiser, Gabby Krause, Kaylin Lisy, Kennedy Little, Joslin Mumm, Jamie Nelson, Amanda Pelkey, Courtney Stagman, Elisebeth Tammi, Tyra Turner. Player/managers Kaylyn Anderson, Breanna Bisek. Head coach Melissa Volk, assistant coaches Ronnie Druk, Shannon Kangas, Sarah Thedens, Luke Volk.