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Dodge County downs Orono in the Minnesota high school girls hockey state tournament

Dodge County's three goals in the second period put them in the state title game

ST. PAUL –  The No. 3-seed Dodge County Wildcats (23-4) defeated he No. 2-Seed Orono Spartans (21-7-1) 4-2 in the 2024 Class 1A MSHSL girls hockey state tournament semifinals at Xcel Energy Center.

Dodge County scored three goals in the second period and held off a Spartan flurry in the third period.

"We said this would be a battle until the end," Dodger County coach Jeremy Gunderson said. "We worked on two-and-a-half weeks straight d-zone. We practiced it. If we get into a situation, we know how to shut a team down. ... We beat each other up for two weeks, but it paid today."

The Spartans gained control of the first period with a goal from sophomore Maddy Kimbrel. She beat a Dodge County defender down the right side and drove the puck to the net, eventually scoring on her own rebound. 

Moments later, Orono freshman goaltender Vivienne Anderson made a point-blank glove save to keep thew Wildcats off the board. 

After an even first half of the first period, the Spartans controlled the puck in the final minutes to end with a 10-8 shots-on-goal advantage.

Whatever advantage Orono built at the end of the first period went away quickly. Orono's Allie Pleimann got called for checking 20 seconds into the second period. Junior forward Nora Carstensen scored on the power play for the Wildcats to tie the game at one less than a minute into the second period.

Dodge County continued to capitalize on chances in the second period. Kylie Meyer squeezed a shot through the Orono goaltender's five-hole, and Maysie Koch added another 30 seconds later on a 1-on-1 opportunity. 

Orono had multiple chances in the final minute of the period to chip into the Wildcat's lead. Dodge County goalie Ida Huber made multiple saves, and defender Alexa Van Straaten stoped a point-blank shot, but she was called for a hooking.

"[Huber] really saved us," Dodge County senior Abby Simons said. "I don't think she ever gave up. ... It just feels really good to have a solid goaltender."

Dodge County took a 3-1 lead into the third period. 

Orono had two power plays early in the period, but the Dodge County penalty kill held the Spartans to only two shots. 

"We know that we're really good and solid on our penalty kill, so I think we were pretty confident in it," Dodge County junior Koch said. "Stay calm. Stay poised."

Orono cut the lead to one on a backhand shot from Macy Rasmussen that slid under Huber's right pad with 10:30 remaining in the game. 

"When we started really hammering the way we needed to, and moving like we did in the third period, we created a ridiculous amount of opportunities," Orono coach Paul Antoneko said.

The Spartans peppered Huber with shots, but she kept them out to push the Wildcats to the state championship in their first season in school history in the tournament.

"We knew we had [Huber] dialed in, it was just about the rest of us to get iver our nerves and come to play," Dodger County coach Jeremy Gunderson said.

The Wildcats added an open-net goal from Carstensen.

Dodge County plays the winner of the No. 1-seed Academy of Holy Angels vs. the No. 4-seed Warroad Warriors. 

"A lot of people looked down on us," Koch said. "We were the underdogs for sure. ... We kept driving."

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- Jack Butler | | @Butler917