Written By Giles Ferrell (ZoneCoverage.com)
After winning their first championship in school history last year, the Edina girls hockey team decided that one was not good enough.
The top-seeded Hornets doubled their championship total Saturday night defeating Centennial 2-1 at Xcel Energy Center for the Class AA title.
“Coming back the second year, everyone is out to get us,” said Edina forward Emily Oden. “Especially defending that title. Everyone wants to win it. To defend it is super hard. To win it again is super special.”
After a scoreless first period, both teams traded a pair of goals in the second as Oden scored for Edina while Gabbie Hughes answered for Centennial.
Despite heavily outshooting Centennial 15-7 after two, there was no nervousness for Edina heading into the third. In fact, as head coach Sami Reber said, there was excitement.
“I came into the locker room of extreme hyperness, it was almost a bit overwhelming walking in as a coach. I knew the girls were ready to come out on the ice.”
Coming out in the third, Aliyah Lance took advantage of a power play and put the Hornets out ahead just 2:39 into the period. It was a lead Edina knew they would not give up.
“Our team when we are up, we can hold a lead,” said Lance. “Because we know what we need to do. Keep [the puck] deep, not take many risks, play defense. Edina hockey.”
Facing Centennial’s dynamic duo of Anneke Linser and Gabbie Hughes, Edina knew they would not win the game easily. But with a solid defensive strategy, they were able to limit the pair to just eight shots on goal thanks in large to a plethora of blocked shots.
Edina head coach Sami Reber said of the defensive strategy on Hughes and Linser, “We talked about them [before the game]. Eliminate their time and space was a huge thing and blocking their shots, they both have incredible shots.”
In total, Edina blocked 15 shots in the hockey game with seven of those 15 shots coming on the sticks of Hughes and Linser.
The Hornets even added a bit of physicality to the strategy on Hughes and Linser, who were playing their third game in as many nights.
“Physicality is something we hype as a team,” said Reber. “When you have two players that we know that are going to play a lot of minutes in this game, we wanted to wear them down as much as possible.”
“They really gave us a dogfight. They were really on us,” added Linser. “We did what we could. We tried our best.”
Even in the game’s final minute Centennial was able to press Edina, but they just ran out of time trying to get that tying goal.
Centennial head coach Kristie King said, “I thought we had a lot of chances in that last minute. Maybe we had a lot of time, maybe we didn’t. We don’t like to look at the what ifs.”
But in the end, it was Edina who won for the second year in a row, and Lance reflected on the great team.
“Our team is so talented with so many girls bringing something to the table. So to be a part of that and just work as a team and get the bounces to go our way is great.”