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Unfazed after early Lakeville South goal, Hill-Murray earns state semifinal berth

Jack Senior makes 32 saves as Hill-Murray advances past Lakeville South. The Pioneers will play Andover, a double-overtime winner over Moorhead, on Friday.

Lakeville South vs Hill-Murry_0371.jpg
Hill-Murray goaltender Jack Erickson (33) deflects a Lakeville South shot during the first period Thursday, March 10, 2022, in the State Boys Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. PAUL — Jack Erickson would’ve rather not have given up a goal in the opening seconds of his first start in the state tournament, but that’s exactly what happened.

Fortunately for Hill-Murray’s senior goaltender, it may have turned out to serve a constructive purpose.

“It woke me up and got me into the game a little bit and get the nerves out,” said Erickson, who was simple with his words postgame – a glaring contrast to the way he flashed the glove in key moments and also contrasted to the way others talked about him.

Erickson, who made 32 saves, helped the Pioneers hold off a late surge to beat the Lakeville South 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the Class AA State Boys Hockey Tournament Thursday, March 10 at the Xcel Energy Center.

“I barely had a chance to adjust my tie [before Lakeville South scored],” Pioneers coach Bill Lechner said. “You don’t want to start that way, but stuff happens. I’m proud of the guys. They settled down and got the next goal.”


Hill-Murray (24-4-1) will face Andover in the late semifinal game Friday night. Andover advanced with a grueling double-overtime win over Moorhead that ended about 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

Lakeville South’s Tanner Ludtke scored on the rush 10 seconds into the game and while that got the crowd buzzing, it might be more likely those in attendance left the arena talking about the save he made protecting a one-goal lead with eight minutes left.

I barely had a chance to adjust my tie [before Lakeville South scored].
Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner

The Cougars had a 2-on-1 opportunity and Ludtke put the puck on a tee with a centering pass from below the goal line to Aidan Willis.

Willis appeared to have an easy tap-in for the equalizer, but his one-timer went directly into Erickson’s glove.

“I had a perfect view of it and I think my jaw hit the ice,” said Dylan Godbout, who was on the ice for that play. “I knew he could make that save, but to make that save on this stage in front of this many people, he’ll remember it and I’ll remember it the rest of my life.”

Added Ludtke: “Nine out of 10 times, [Willis] scores that goal. I can’t really be mad. The goalie made a great save.”

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While Erickson was the key player in protecting Hill-Murray’s lead, the Pioneers’ ability to take advantage of Lakeville South’s mistakes clearing the puck from the defensive zone was how they took the lead.

Axel Bagley intercepted an attempt to clear the puck along the near wall and threw a shot on goal from a low angle by the glass that snuck under the bar minutes after Ludtke’s goal.


Leo Gruba’s power play goal at the 5:49 mark of the first period gave the Pioneers the lead for good and another Lakeville South mistake early in the second led to the game-winning goal.

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Hill-Murray defenseman Axel Begley (26) gets a hug from teammate Hill-Murray defenseman Leo Gruba (11) after scoring against Hill-Murray during the first period Thursday, March 10, 2022, in the State Boys Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

The Cougars attempted a breakout up the middle from behind their own net but the Hill-Murray forecheck broke up the play and the puck came free to Gianni Hurley in the slot and he buried it.

Meanwhile, Erickson played a perfect second period, stopping all 17 shots he faced.

“I’m so dang proud of [Erickson],” Godbout said. “He was our backup goalie at the beginning of the year and he’s worked so hard. He bails us out at times and he had a great game tonight.”

The Cougars pulled within a goal 3:19 into the third period on a Tyler Lafferty shot from the point that deflected off a Hill-Murray skate and over Erickson’s left shoulder.


Lakeville South falls to 25-4-0 and will face the Andover/Moorhead loser in the consolation semifinals at 11 a.m. at Mariucci Arena.

“The effort was great tonight and the boys gave it their all,” senior defenseman Mason Johnson said. “We played this game like we played any other game.”

Jack Hochsprung stopped 28 shots for Lakeville.

PHOTO GALLERY (click/swipe to view)

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