Boys’ hockey falls in rematch of State championship

Junior Spencer Naas prepares for a face-off.

Will Jarvis, Staff Writer

The Hill-Murray Pioneers walked into the St. Louis Park Rec Center on Saturday, December 8 with a will for revenge. Nearly nine months after losing the class 2A state title game to the Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights, the Pioneers were looking for retribution. And boy, did they get it.

With the 2000 seat west rink overflowing with students, family, fans, and scouts, the Hill-Murray Pioneers got their vengeance by beating the Red Knights 4-2.

Scoring started early for the Red Knights when senior captain Daniel Labosky slipped the puck to co-captain T.J. Moore. The senior, who led the Elite League in scoring this past fall, fired a rocket wrist shot past the blocker of Pioneer goaltender John Dugas at 4:27 of the first period. Hill-Murray would respond, however, as Pioneer forward Tyler Funk found himself on a breakaway, and buried the puck in the net with 3:30 to go in the opening stanza of what would be a fast-paced contest between the two Catholic school powerhouses.

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Hill took the lead in the second when captain Zach LaValle fired a shot over the glove of Red Knight goaltender Andrew Sprang with 8 minutes left in the period. But taking advantage of one of the many powerplay opportunities they had on Saturday, BSM tied the game with 3:56 left in the second period. Junior Johnny Austin fired a shot from the point, and Spencer Naas tipped the puck just below the crossbar, resulting in an eruption from the packed house. Naas now leads the team in points with 7.

The third period started slow for both teams, but just under 4 minutes in, LaValle scored his second goal of the game for Hill-Murray on a tic-tac-toe passing play, firing the shot into a nearly open net. The Red Knights were never able to answer, as Dugas made a number of incredible saves, including an amazing one against Grant Besse in the slot. Sprang also played well, shutting down the Pioneers on various scoring opportunities. Both goalies ended the night with 23 saves.

Benilde had a few scoring chances in the final minute to tie it up, but Dugas was there once again to put an end to a BSM comeback. With 4 seconds left, Mitch Slattery put the nail in the Red Knights’ coffin, scoring an empty net goal.

Benilde will look to get back on the winning streak when they face off against the Holy Angels Stars on Thursday, December 13 at Richfield Ice Arena.