White Bear Lake books a boys hockey trip to Xcel Energy Center

White Bear Lake will return to the state tournament for the first time since 2019 after defeating Hill-Murray 3-0 on Friday in the Class 2A, Section 4 championship game.

The Bears scored two empty-net goals in the final minute after starting the game with a goal in the first minute.

Hill-Murray (17-9-2) was aiming to defend its section championship at a soldout Aldrich Arena in Maplewood, the Pioneers' home ice.

Friday night marked the Bears' and Pioneers' 20th section final meeting since 1984-85. Hill-Murray had won 14 of 19, including four of the past five.

Junior forward Jack Stanius got White Bear Lake on the board just 36 seconds into the game. And 1-0 is where the score remained until the empty-net goals from Blake Eckerle and Nolan Roed. White Bear Lake junior goaltender Leo Gabriel recorded his eighth shutout of the season. His counterpart between the pipes, Hill-Murray senior Andrew Lane, stopped seven of his first eight shots on goal through two periods.

The teams tied 3-3 on Dec. 23.