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Edina puts on a third-period show, wins Class 2A girls hockey title

Edina captured its first girls hockey state title since 2021 and fifth in eight seasons, defeating Hill-Murray 2-0 after denying the Pioneers a preferred fast start in Saturday's Class 2A championship game at Xcel Energy Center.

Two scoreless periods gave way to a pair of goals by fourth-seeded Edina (24-6-1).

Whitney Horton put her Hornets ahead 1-0 at 9:16 of the third period on a sweet no-look pass from Lorelai Nelson. The power-play goal was just a start for Nelson. That play had been scripted and practiced often. Her one-person rush was not. She dangled around two helpless defenders to make it 2-0 at 12:18.

"It was a great shot," said Hill-Murray senior Grace Zhan, the Star Tribune All-Metro first-team goaltender. "I can't say anything about it."

Edina coach Sami Cowger sure could.

"Seeing it live, the first dangle I think my jaw hit the floor," she said. "But I was like, 'Just shoot it.' And then she did it again and I was like, 'Please just shoot it.' Then she took a stride and sniped and it shut me right up.

"It's not surprising. Lorelai is an extremely talented hockey player and she has all the skills in the world to pull off goals like that — and it came at the most perfect time."

Second-seeded Hill-Murray (25-4-1) was trying to capture its first title since going back-to-back in 2014-15. But the young team couldn't get off the blocks.

"In full disclosure, we ran out of gas," Pioneers coach Johnny Pohl said. "It's tough to play three games in a row. We're the type of team where if we get that first goal, the game comes better to us because the other team has to push and press and that opens things up for our skilled kids. But we couldn't get that first one tonight."

Both teams were fast and skilled and boasted solid team defense. Same story in the teams' regular-season meeting, a 2-1 Hill-Murray victory Nov. 30 at Edina's Braemar Arena.

Until Nelson's incredible individual effort in the third period, this game looked headed for the lowest-scoring championship game since 1998, when Apple Valley defeated Hibbing/Chisholm/Nashwauk-Keewatin 1-0 in overtime.

THREE STARS

1. Lorelai Nelson, Edina: Assisted on the team's first goal of the game before a highlight-reel goal for a 2-0 lead later in the third period.

2. Whitney Horton, Edina: Broke a scoreless tie in the third period with a power-play goal that held up as the game-winner.

3. Reese McConnell, Edina: The junior goaltender made 15 saves.