Minnetonka's late-game heroics, a hat trick propel Minnesota girls Class AA winners

The Cougars tied things up late in the third period but Avar scores for the Skippers with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

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After her game-winning goal, Minnetonka forward Lindzi Avar (13) gets a hug from teammate forward Kendra Distad (14) in the third period Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. PAUL — The top four seeds advanced Thursday in the Minnesota high school Class AA girls hockey tournament.

Minnetonka wins on late goal

Centennial/Spring Lake Park put up a valiant effort and had things tied up late in the third period of the Class AA girls quarterfinal on Thursday but Minnetonka's Lindzi Avar netted the game-winning goal in the 3-2 victory with just 42 seconds left in regulation.

Senior and Ms. Hockey finalist Lauren O'Hara talked about how the Cougars made it to the state tournament back in 2021 but had to forfeit their quarterfinal game to a positive COVID-19 test result and how that motivated a lot of the upperclassman for the quarterfinal game in 2023.

Cougar netminder Kaitlin Groess made a whopping 40 saves throughout the 51 minutes while Minnetonka's Layla Hemp made 12.


Isa Goettl's hat trick propels defending champs

University of Minnesota commit and Ms. Hockey semifinalist Isa Goettl's three-goal performance propelled No. 2 Andover to a huge 9-0 victory over Rosemount on Thursday in the Minnesota Class AA girls quarterfinals at the Xcel Energy Center.

Goettl not only posted three goals (one being shorthanded), she also tacked on two assists and two penalties throughout the 51-minute game.

Senior Goalie of the Year finalist Courtney Stagman (St. Anselm) of Andover earned a 10-save shutout.

Edina's special teams roll in win

Two players down early on in Thursday afternoon's Minnesota Class AA girls quarterfinal matchup against unseeded Lakeville North, Edina's penalty kill did what it's done all season.

In the span of 2 minutes and 24 seconds, the third-seeded Hornets killed the 5-on-3, scored shorthanded on the leftover Panthers power play and added another goal once they got back to even strength on their way to a 6-0 win at Xcel Energy Center.

Edina's penalty kill — which had allowed only six goals all season coming into the state tournament — is running at over 94% on the year after killing off all four penalties in the game. Two power-play goals on their two opportunities kept the Hornets perfect on special teams.


Gentry Academy spoils Spuds' return to state tournament

Moorhead waited 17 years for its return trip to the girls state hockey tournament, but the Spuds' wait for their first state quarterfinal win continues after a 7-0 loss to Gentry Academy in the first round of the Class AA tournament Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Gentry Academy senior Cara Sajevic, a St. Thomas commit left off the Ms. Hockey shortlist despite coming into the state tournament with 70 points, netted a first-period natural hat trick with two shorthanded goals to forge a commanding lead the fourth-seeded Stars, loaded with eight Division I commits, didn't relinquish.

Moorhead — which previously appeared at the state tournament in 2006, 2002 and 2001 — has not won a winners' bracket game at the girls state tournament.

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Sydney Wolf is a reporter for The Rink Live, primarily covering youth and high school hockey. She joined the team in November of 2021 and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric Studies.
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