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Knights look to slay more giants
In winning the Section 5AA championship, the Irondale High School girls hockey team knocked off two ranked opponents. The Knights need to continue with that David and Goliath mindset when they head into the state tournament this week.
The ranked foes will keep on coming at Xcel Energy Center starting on Thursday. First up for Irondale is a date with No. 2-ranked Minnetonka at 6 p.m.
While the task is daunting, Irondale has already proved it had the capability to battle the best teams in the state. The Knights took care of 13th-ranked Blaine in the section quarterfinals and third-ranked Mounds View in the section final.
A big part of Irondale's post-season success is sophomore goaltender Anna Pate, who, despite suffering from the flu last week, picked up section victories over Centennial and Mounds View. She was especially impressive against Mounds View, who peppered Pate with 32 shots but got only one past her.
"I can't really feel any sickness," Pate said following the Mounds View win. "It feels too great."
Prior to this season, Pate had played in exactly one varsity game but looked like a seasoned veteran in the 2-1 upset of Mounds View.
Another player who had a big couple of section playoff performances was freshman Sena Hanson, who scored the game-winning goals in both contests. With four seconds left in overtime against Blaine, Samantha Donovan won a faceoff back to Hanson and she buried the puck with one second left on the clock.
Hanson came through again in the final as she broke a 1-1 tie with a goal with 16 seconds left in the third period.
"Sam Donovan got me the puck and I took it out to the middle and I just shot it," Hanson said. "I looked for an open space and it went in."
Hanson said she and her teammates went into the Mounds View game with the mindset that they could compete with the Mustangs.
"We'd already played them this year and we lost," said Hanson. "We were really mad about that because we knew we could beat them. They're just high school girls like us and we know we can play with them and beat them."
To get to Mounds View, Irondale needed to beat Centennial in the semifinals. The Knights won a wild, 6-5 game when Hanson beat the clock and the Cougars.
Irondale twice held two-goal leads against Centennial but the Cougars fought their way back both times. The second period was particularly eventful as the two teams combined for four goals in the first three minutes.
Other standouts for Irondale last week included Alex Toupal, who scored two goals and added three assists, and Donovan, who had a goal and two assists.
Brian Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Class AA state girls hockey tournament
Games at Xcel Energy Center unless noted
Seeds, records in parentheses
Game 1 — Forest Lake (NA, 15-10-2) vs. Eden Prairie (2, 20-5-3), 11 a.m.
Game 2 — Eagan (NA, 18-9-1) vs. Hill-Murray (3, 19-5-4), 1 p.m.
Game 3 — Irondale (NA, 19-8-1) vs. Minnetonka (1, 24-4), 6 p.m.
Game 4 — North Wright County (5, 23-4-1) vs. Lakeville North (4, 20-6-2), 8 p.m.
Game 5 — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 6 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 8 p.m.
Consolation semifinals, Friday
Game 7 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m. at Ridder Arena
Game 8 — Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 12 p.m. at Ridder Arena
Saturday, 12 p.m. at Ridder Arena
Game 9 — Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner
Third-place game, Saturday, 4 p.m.
Game 10 — Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser
Championship game, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Game 11 — Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner
Section 5AA girls hockey playoffs
Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony Village 4, Coon Rapids 2
Mounds View 7, Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony Village 0
Champlin Park 5, Anoka 1
Irondale 1, Blaine 0
Centennial 5, Andover 1
Mounds View 4, Champlin Park 2
Irondale 6, Centennial 5, OT
Irondale 2, Mounds View 1