Playing the final hockey game at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum, the Stillwater boys’ hockey team captured its first-ever section championship on Friday night with a 2-1 victory over Hill-Murray.
The Ponies have played 59 hockey seasons since 1947, but this will mark the program’s first trip to the storied Minnesota State Tournament. The Pioneers, by comparison, have made a total of 26 state tournament appearances.
The Ponies fell behind 1-0 in the first period, but evened the score on a goal by Devin Cates less than two minutes into the second period. Then in the third, senior Brandon Jungmann scored the game-winner at 4:15 on a shot that was deflected high into the air and landed just behind goaltender and into the net.
Josh Benson finished with 25 saves in goal for the Ponies, including several stops while facing heavy pressure late in the third period.
Check out the Stillwater Gazette’s Facebook page for a photo gallery.
UPDATE — Seeding for the Class AA boys’ state hockey tournament was conducted on Saturday morning and the Ponies (16-10-2) will face top-seeded Edina (22-4-1) in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 6 p.m. The winner of that game will meet either No. 4 Duluth East (21-6-1) or No. 5 Eagan (18-9-1) in the semifinals on Friday.
The other half of the bracket features No. 2 Lakeville North (23-4-1) vs. Roseau (20-7-1) at 11 a.m., followed by No. 3 Eden Prairie (17-8-3) vs. Centennial (16-10-2).