Keeping their fire: Edina Girls’ Hockey team takes third place


Courtesy of Charlie Dekker

The Edina Girls’ Hockey team huddle up as they prepare to take the ice.

Jane Porter and Elizabeth Yao

The Girls’ AA State Hockey tournament ran from Feb. 23-25 with the Hornets leaving with the bronze medal. Going into the tournament this year, the girls held a record of 21-4-2 and were seeded third. With this, the Hornets entered Xcel with a desire to win and give their past rivals—Andover and Minnetonka—a run for their money.
“We got ranked second in our section, while Blake was number one. So that kind of put a fire under us and it was really motivating because we knew we deserved first,” senior captain Lauren Zawoyski said. “So we just went out there and worked really hard and we accomplished what we needed to do; we won sections.” With their official ticket into the state tournament, the girls shifted their focus onto the upcoming games. Simply, the team had one goal: to win.
With winning in mind, the team worked hard during practice, where most of their bonding took place. The intense practice for state led the girls to spend a lot of time together, allowing for a special kinship within the team. “I would say we’re all close, almost like sisters. Just like a family,” freshman center Lorelai Nelson said.
Going into the first game, expectations were high for Edina. Due to their high seeding over Lakeville North’s spot as a random draw team, the cards were stacked in the Hornet’s favor. Throughout the first period, the rink was clearly tipped towards Lakeville North’s goal. While Edina continuously got penalties, they were able to kill every single opposing power play without a sweat, allowing Nelson to score a shorthanded goal for Edina during a 5-3.
By the end of the second period, Edina was up 3-0 with Uma Corniea, senior captain and goalie, blocking every shot that came at her with precision and the backing of Edina’s strong defense.
The third period held three more goals, one by Hannah Halverson, a junior center, who entered Lakeville North’s zone all alone and was able to get a puck in the back of the net on a wrist shot even after the rest of her line had swapped out. In the end, the Hornets won 6-0 through thorough patience and a consistent ability to kill any Lakeville North powerplay.
Heading into the semi-finals after their dominating win, the Hornets prepared to face last year’s state champs, Andover, who also held one of the best goalies in the state. “We have a really big rivalry against Tonka and Andover, because we have lost to Andover a couple of times, so that obviously [fueled] us to want to win [even] more,” Nelson said.
Corniea’s talents faced a match that would not prove to disappoint as the Hornets faced one of the only teams who had been able to consistently keep them from being the last team standing. “It’s always a treat to play against the best and it’s always a fun game,” Corniea said.
Knowing that Andover was the only team keeping them from the championship game, Edina showed up with their strongest efforts to try and break through the team seeded only one spot higher than them. Notably, penalties remained even between the two teams and were overall less compared to Thursday’s game due to Edina’s need to play much more defensively. While Andover kept Edina’s defense on their toes, the Hornets offense could not be stopped. Edina senior Ellie Chapman scored the first goal of the game, kicking off the real competition between these two historical rivals. With this positive omen, the Hornets continued to fend off any plays by Andover and succeeded in maintaining their lead through the end of second period of the game.
In the final period, Andover scored two goals, leaving the Hornets to play in the third place game where they had ended up last year. “In between periods, my coach was like ‘You guys have got to give it all you got. This is all you guys have left so just go out there and play your hardest.’ And that’s what we did,” Chapman said.
Going into the final game of the Hornets season, the tension was high as they faced the Minnetonka Skippers, who they had lost to a year before in the semi-finals of the state tournament. “We kind of had a fire under us. We’ve always battled to the top with Minnetonka and I think we just wanted to come home with some hardware,” Chapman said. “Since we played them so many times this year, we knew what was coming and we knew how they played and we knew that they weren’t happy they lost either.”
At the end of a stalemated first period, the Skippers scored with only a minute left. However, Edina wasn’t going to go into the second period without evening the score, leaving Nelson to score only 14 seconds later. Throughout the next periods, the rivalry between the teams was palpable as the momentum shifted rapidly.
With a goal from Sami Hankinson as well as one from Minnetonka, the score remained tied 2-2 throughout the third period. But the Hornets wouldn’t allow a repeat of last year’s game. With six minutes left of the game, Halverson scored, gaining the Hornets a 3-2 lead that they would end the game with following a Skipper powerplay that forced Edina to stay on their toes till the end. Even with a pulled goalie and a powerplay, Minnetonka was unable to score a tying goal, solidifying Edina’s bronze medal.
“It seemed like we were much happier with winning third place compared to last year because last year I think we were more expecting to win first place. Obviously we wanted to win first place this year but we played our biggest rival in the third place game so it felt really good to beat them,” Porthan said.
With Edina’s final win over Minnetonka, the senior Hornets not only leave the Edina hockey program with a win as their final game, but with confidence that the future of their team is in good hands.
“I think [the younger girls] are gonna prove a lot of people wrong next year,” Chapman said.