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Class AA girls state hockey: Star goaltending powers Edina past Lakeville North

Edina led Lakeville North, 2-0, after the first period of their Class AA state quarterfinal Thursday, but everyone at the Xcel Energy Center knew the Hornets hadn’t played to their standards.

The No. 3 seed took a couple penalties after it was caught out of position — with the Panthers even obtaining a 5-on-3 advantage — and relinquished a few golden opportunities. Luckily for the Hornets, they have senior goaltender Uma Corniea, who turned away all of Lakeville North’s Grade A chances.

“We knew what we were facing with Uma in net. She’s a tough character and a great person and great goaltender,” Panthers coach Buck Kochevar said. “We had opportunities, but you have to capitalize — and we didn’t.”

And when you don’t capitalize on opportunities, Edina will inevitably make you play.

After the Hornets killed off the 5-on-3 advantage, Lorelai Nelson scored a short-handed goal that squelched all the Panthers’ momentum. A minute later, Hannah Halverson made it 2-0 and the Hornets went on to win the Class 2A state quarterfinal by a 6-0 final.

“When you play a team like Edina, and a goaltender like Uma, you have to score, and it brings up our team if you do that,” Kochevar said. “Everybody gets more excited. We had opportunities.”

Edina, meanwhile, put its foot down on the pedal. After an uninspiring opening 17 minutes, Edina coach Sami Cowger noted the team had a “stern” talk.

“And I’m really proud of the way they battled back in the second and third. I feel like that was much more like Hornet hockey there,” Cowger said. “You can blame it on a lot of things — It’s the X, we’re young, a lot of kids haven’t played here before, it’s intimidating. But we’ve got to show up every period, because every team is out to get us.”

Edina will meet defending state champion Andover in the state semis Friday at 6 p.m. The Hornets outshot Lakeville North 20-7 over the final two periods. Halverson and Ellie Chapman each scored twice, and Corniea logged a 12-save shutout. Senior forward Lauren Zawoyski said that first intermission discussion addressed the team’s lack of attitude and effort.

“Those are some key words, something that we can control,” she said. “We definitely, as a team, picked that up in the second and third.”

The Panthers were making their first state tournament appearance since 2014. Lakeville North returns the bulk of its production next season, and will be a major threat to get back to the X.

“Anytime you make it to the state tournament, it’s a big part. We haven’t been here (in a while), but you don’t just want to get here — you want to do something while you’re here,” Kochevar said. “So, I think it’s a big learning year for us, and yeah, we’ll be champing on the bit to get here again next year.”

“It’s just kind of a downer,” he added. “It happened so quick, the highs and lows of that two minutes (of the first period). The girls never died. They played their hearts out and we just ran out of gas.”

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