Marlin girls beat Rushmore to advance to state title gameABERDEEN — One of the state’s best offensive hockey teams proved its defense to be just as lethal.
By: By John Papendick, Aberdeen American News
ABERDEEN — One of the state’s best offensive hockey teams proved its defense to be just as lethal.
The Mitchell Marlins girls’ hockey team defeated Rushmore of Rapid City 4-3 in the varsity state tourna-ment semifinals at the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen on Saturday. Mitchell survived a five-on-three power play in the final quarter, with junior goalie Hannah Spates turning away six shots in those two minutes with help from three teammates: Anna Rice, Morgan Griebel and Haley Stahl.
“That was the game-maker right there,” Mitchell coach Eric Hohn said. “In a close game like that, you never want to go down two in the box. Normally, you don’t survive a situation like that and you end up losing, especially to a good team like Rushmore. Our top three players and our goalie stepped up and shut them down. The team just stayed focused and I am so proud of them.”
Mitchell will now play in the championship at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The Marlins will face the winner of a Saturday evening semifinal game between Brookings and Oahe (Pierre).
On Saturday, Rushmore scored first, then Mitchell — which has the top three scorers in the league — tied it. That same scenario repeated itself two more times until Stahl scored two fourth-quarter goals, including the game winner with 7:19 left. Rushmore pulled its goalie with 94 seconds left, and the Huron defense led by Spates turned away five more shots, including three in a row in a matter of seconds right in front of the net.
“Hannah played a great game,” Mitchell coach Eric Hohn said. “I told her in a game like this with so many good offensive players, people are going to score. Don't expect a shutout and keep your head up if they score some goals on you. And she did that. She played 51 minutes of good hockey.”
“Everyone on our team is really excited to get another shot at the state title,” Spates said. “Oh gosh, this is so amazing and so hard to believe. We got beat twice by Rushmore, so we were worried coming in. It was really nerve-wracking at the end when they were taking all those shots.”
During the five-on-three power play — Mitchell went down two players for two minutes on back-to-back penalties — Spates said, “I just tried to encourage my teammates. There is nothing you can do about it once you are in a situation like that. You just have to focus and try to shut it down. And my teammates did such a great job with that. I have so much confidence in them and I know I can’t do anything without them. They are just an amazing group of girls.”
Hohn said hockey fans who witnessed this game should be happy with the high level of play they saw. “We knew this game was going to be a dogfight. That was just great girls’ hockey. If you don’t get excited about a game like this, you don’t like hockey very much.”