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Marlin girls hockey falls short of first state championship in loss to Sioux Falls

Mitchell finishes the year at 18-3, with all three losses at the hands of the Flyers.

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ABERDEEN — The Mitchell Marlins girls hockey team came up just shy of its first state title in Aberdeen on Sunday.

After beating Sioux Center 9-1 in the quarterfinals and Aberdeen, the two-time reigning state champion 7-2 in the semifinals, the Marlins finished short, losing to Sioux Falls in the state championship game 5-2 at Odde Ice Arena.

"I'm very proud of this group," Marlins head coach Chris Tronnes said. "They had a fantastic season and there's nothing for them to hang their heads about."

After striking quickly in the first two state tournament games with early goals, Mitchell saw themselves down 2-0 after the first period to the Flyers and were looking at a three-goal deficit after the second period. Even though the Marlins brought the score within two with about 12 minutes to go in the third period, the Flyers scored a goal in the final minute of action to win their first championship since 2019.

"Sioux Falls has a really good defensive core and structure so it's hard for our girls to get in the zone," Tronnes said. "They just had a really good defensive scheme to turn our top line down."

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Eighth-grader Brynlee Sabers, who scored three goals in the quarterfinals and two goals in the semifinals, scored her 30th goal of the season for the Marlins in the second period. Three and a half minutes later, Alexa Christie answered back with a goal to give the Flyers a two-score lead again. Gaby Schroder scored a power-play goal with less than three minutes remaining in the second period to extend the lead to three.

Senior Kelsey Amick notched the second goal of the afternoon for the Marlins in the third period, but Sioux Falls’ Zoe Gorra put the exclamation point on the championship, scoring the Flyers fifth goal of the game.

The Flyers outshot the Marlins 40-27 in its championship victory. Sioux Falls’ Riley Vander Esch had 25 saves, while Mitchell’s Sadie Kludt had 35 saves.

The Marlins finished the season with a 18-3 record, with all three losses to Sioux Falls. The 2022 state championship becomes the fifth state title appearance for the Flyers in the last six years and the second championship the Flyers have won in the last four years.

Despite the championship loss, Mitchell won 18 games in a season for the first time in over a decade. It is Mitchell's fourth second-place state r finish all-time.

Mitchell loses key seniors Kate Nash, Kelsey Amick and Samantha Kludt due to graduation, but will bring back a strong roster for next season.

Amick finished her senior year with 34 goals goals and 33 assists. Nash finished the year with 16 goals, two being game winning goals, and eight assists while Klundt ended the season with four goals and eight assists.

The Marlins' Brooke Jarman, season leader on the team with 42 goals and 40 assists, will return for her senior year, along with Brynlee Sabers and Reese Amick, all finished in the five top in goals scored from this season. Tronnes said this championship game was huge experience for the young core going forward.

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"The young girls on our team have gained a lot of experience this year playing in big games," Tronnes said. "It's hard to replace our seniors that will be leaving but I think the girls coming up will be able to fill those roles. The experience they gained from this season will be huge for that."

Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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