A climatic close to the 2016 Minnesota State High School Girls Hockey Tournament came on Lauren Oberle’s game winning goal with 2:24 left in overtime that led the Eden Prairie Eagles to a 3-2 win over the Maple Grove Crimson in the Class AA championship game Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
It was the third state championship for Eden Prairie and their first since 2008. It was also the first Class AA title game to go into overtime since 2004 when Elk River defeated North St. Paul.
Both the Eagles and Crimson went scoreless in the first period as goalies Alexa Dobchuk of Eden Prairie and Breanna Blesi of Maple Grove continued their outstanding defensive play by keeping the puck from entering the net.
In the second period, Eden Prairie would tally twice. Naomi Rogge sent the puck to Anna Gravelle and she went around the left side of the cage and scored the first goal. They would go up by two on Rachel Werdin’s power play goal from the center slot with :40 to go in the period.
Maple Grove, who upset two time defending champion Hill-Murray Friday night would battle back with a pair of goals. The first goal came when Hailey Herdine’s shot bounced off of the EP in the center of Dobchuk’s jersey and Katie Denecke, one of three Crimson sophomores scored on the rebound. Maia Martinez would score from the left doorstep on a pass from Lauren Kaufman. But wait. The goal was being reviewed by the replay officials in the press box. After examining the goal, the referee counted the goal. That would end the scoring in regulation time so it as on to overtime.
A golden opportunity would come for the Eagles in overtime they had a 5 on 3 advantage for 1:24 as Martinez went off for hooking and Sydnee Hanson got a two minute cross checking penalty. Rogge made a cross slot pass to Oberle and she sent it into the net for her first goal of the tournament that came in a big way to clinch the state title.
Eden Prairie head coach Jamie Grossman became the first head coach to win state titles in both Class A & AA. He coached the Holy Angels Stars to the 2005 state Class A championship.
“I feel blessed to be part of a great program,” he said.
Grossman commented on the outstanding goaltending in the Class AA tournament. “”You don’t make it to the state tournament unless you have good players.”
The Class AA Herb Brooks Award winner was Kaitlyn Van Tassel of Forest Lake. The award is presented to a player who best fits the qualities of the late coach
In the third place game, Hill-Murray bounced back from their upset loss to Maple Grove by beating the Edina Hornets 5-3. The consolation game at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus had the Eastview Lightning beat their South Suburban Conference rivals the Lakeville South Cougars 2-1.
The attendance for the championship session was 4,530.