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Minnetonka girls hockey beats Holy Family 4-0 for sixth straight state berth

During their run of six consecutive state tournament appearances from 2006-2011, Blaine boys hockey coaches began referring to Warner Coliseum at the State Fairgrounds as "Fogerty South," Blaine's home away from home come section playoff time.

Nowadays, it's on the Minnetonka girls hockey coaching staff to bestow a nickname on Braemar Arena. Friday's 4-0 victory against Holy Family Catholic in the Class 2A, Section 2 championship game guaranteed the Skippers' sixth consecutive state tournament appearance — five of which were secured at Braemar Arena in Edina. In fact, Minnetonka has won 10 consecutive playoff games on that ice, host to the section semifinals and finals.

Minnetonka, ranked first in the latest Let's Play Hockey poll, is favored to receive the No. 1 seed in next week's Class 2A state tournament. The Minnesota State High School League seeds the bracket Saturday morning.

COVID-19 concerns moved the 2021 finals to Minnetonka's Pagel Arena. That year of uncertainty launched four straight finals meetings with Holy Family.

Minnetonka (25-2-1) prevailed Friday thanks to Kendra Distad's goal at 6:23 of the opening period. She scored the only goal in the game's first 37 minutes.

Teammate Layla Hemp made the narrow advantage hold, though her stellar play was matched by Fire senior goalie Kayla Swartout through two periods.

Hemp received a bigger margin for error with third-period goals from Ellie Zakrajsheck (3:05), Lauren Goldsworthy (6:30) and Bella Finnegan (12:39). A four-goal lead, protected by Hemp in net, extinguished the Fire (16-11-1).