Intermission pep talk refocuses Edina in quarterfinal win over Lakeville North
Four penalties killed and two power-play goals were enough for the Hornets to advance to the Class AA semifinals.
ST. PAUL — Two players down early on in Thursday afternoon's Minnesota Class AA girls quarterfinal matchup against unseeded Lakeville North, Edina's penalty kill did what it's done all season.
In the span of 2 minutes and 24 seconds, the third-seeded Hornets killed the 5-on-3, scored shorthanded on the leftover Panthers power play and added another goal once they got back to even strength on their way to a 6-0 win at Xcel Energy Center.
Edina's penalty kill — which had allowed only six goals all season coming into the state tournament — is running at over 94% on the year after killing off all four penalties in the game. Two power-play goals on their two opportunities kept the Hornets perfect on special teams.
"It's at least twice a week that we focus on special teams, [penalty kill], power play," Edina coach Sami Cowger said after the game. "We watch film on the opponent's power play to make sure that we're not just running around with our heads chopped off. But people always say your best penalty killer is your goaltender, so to have [goaltender Uma Corniea] back there to make the saves that she needs to is great. And then we make sure that our skaters and our players are doing their jobs as well."
Ninth-grader Lorelai Nelson opened the game's scoring while Edina was shorthanded with a pretty feint to force Lakeville North's goalie into the butterfly and — after a prescient hesitation — a backhand ease into a yawning net.
Leading scorer Hannah Halverson, a Wisconsin commit, scored two goals and added an assist for the Hornets. The other members of Halverson's line, Ellie Chapman and Cate McCoy, had two goals and a goal and an assist, respectively.
For a city so stereotypically tied to a particular dessert, a cakewalk Edina's quarterfinal win was not. Eighth-grade Lakeville North goalie Kaia Weiland played a sound game in net to keep the Panthers in the contest, their first state appearance since 2014, until the Hornets picked things up in the third period to force running time.
"The girls never died," Lakeville North coach Buck Kochevar said. "They played their hearts out and we just kind of ran out of gas."
Despite leading 2-0 after the opening 17 minutes, Edina got a talking-to from Cowger in the locker room.
"She tells us that we know what we need to do, and I just feel like that first period we were lacking attitude and effort," Edina's Lauren Zawoyski said. "Those are some key words that are something that we can control and we definitely as a team picked that up in the second and third.
A strong right leg from Weiland cemented to the post prevented Zawoyski, a Minnesota State commit, from jamming home a second shorthanded tally for Edina in the second period. Weiland finished the game with 14 saves before being replaced by Addie Oettinger in the third period.
Edina goalie Uma Corniea, making her sixth appearance at the state tournament, was perfect when called upon. A breakaway save on Lakeville North's Anna Tomas in the second period and quick covers on multiple pileups in front of her crease were the highlights for the senior goalie of the year finalist. She finished the game with 12 saves and the shutout victory.
"[Uma] keeps us in games that sometimes we have no business being in," Cowger said.
Though Corniea wasn't tested much on Thursday, she likely will be when Edina faces No. 2-seed Andover in the Class AA semifinals on Friday at 6 p.m.
"They're a really talented group of girls," Edina defender Sami Hankinson said after the matchup was confirmed. "They have strong girls, fast. They give it everything they've got every time they step out onto the ice, which makes it especially fun to play against them because we know it's going to be a high-energy, high-paced game."
Edina and Andover last met at the state tournament in the 2021 and 2020 state championship games, with each team winning one state title. Andover won each of their two meetings this season — 3-0 on Nov. 12 and 2-1 on Dec. 28.
"I feel like we still have a taste of getting beat by Andover and the past two state tournaments," Hankinson said. "So we're ready to give it everything we've got tomorrow and leave it all out there."
LAKEVILLE NORTH 0-0-0—0
FIRST PERIOD: 1, EDN, Nelson (unassisted), 8:42, SH. 2, EDN, Halverson (Porthan, Hankinson), 9:36.
SECOND PERIOD: 3, EDN, Chapman (Anderson, Halverson), 10:33, PP.
THIRD PERIOD: 4, EDN, Halverson (McCoy), 3:02. 5, EDN, Chapman (Anderson, Nelson), 4:11, PP. 6, EDN, McCoy (Zawoyski), 5:20.
SHOTS: LKN 5-4-3—12, EDN 9-12-8—29
SAVES: LKN, Weiland (7-11-2—20), Oettinger (0-0-3—3). EDN, Corniea 5-4-3—12.