Maple Grove topples No. 1 and top seeded Hopkins
By Bob San
Sun Press Newspapers
Maple Grove received the No. 5 seed in this week’s Section 6 girls’ hockey tournament.
The Crimson are peaking at the right time as they ride an 11-game winning streak into the tournament. They won their final three regular season games last week, including a 3-2 overtime win over No. 1 Hopkins Jan. 31.
Taylor Wente had a goal and two assists and Summer Thibodeau scored the first MG goal. The Crimson led 2-0 after two periods but Hopkins rallied for two goals in the third to force overtime. Lauren Kaufman scored 3:45 into overtime with assists from Wente and Thibodeau to lift Maple Grove to the upset victory. Breanna Blesi stopped 34 of 36 shots to get the win.
It was the second straight dramatic win in the week for the Crimson, who edged Elk River 5-4 Jan. 29 when Hailey Herdine scored with 1.5 seconds left in the third. It was Herdine’s second of the night and she also added two assists. Thibodeau, Abby Larson and Kate Josephson scored the other goals and Wente had two assists.
Coco Francis started in goal but Blesi came on in the third period to blank the Elks.
Maple Grove ended the regular season with a 3-1 win over Robbinsdale Armstrong/Cooper Feb. 1. They outshot their opponents 41-15. Wente had one goal and one assist and Larson and Kaufmann netted the other goal. Blesi was the winning goalie.
The Crimson, 17-5-2 overall, are on a roll but to earn the program’s first ever state tournament berth, they will have to go through the toughest section in the state. Top-ranked Hopkins is the first seed, fifth-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret is seeded second, third-ranked Minnetonka is third, sixth-ranked Wayzata is fourth. Maple Grove, ranked 18th, is fifth, followed by Armstrong sixth and North Metro seventh.
Maple Grove opens against Wayzata Feb. 8 at 4:30 at Parade Ice Garden. The Crimson lost to Wayzata 2-1 way back on Dec. 12. The winner takes on Hopkins in the semis Feb. 12 at 5:30 at Parade. The section final is Feb. 14 at U of M Ridder Arena at 6 p.m.