Boys hockey: Ponies end state hockey drought; will face top-seeded Edina

The Stillwater boys’ hockey team made history on Friday while capturing the program’s first-ever section championship. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

The Stillwater boys’ hockey team made history on Friday while capturing the program’s first-ever section championship. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

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).

Brandon Jungmann's floater from the circle found its into the net for the game-winner four minutes into the third period.

Brandon Jungmann’s floater from the circle found its into the net for the game-winner four minutes into the third period.

The Ponies rush the ice after time expired in their 2-1 victory over Hill-Murray in the Section 4AA championship game.

The Ponies rush the ice after time expired in their 2-1 victory over Hill-Murray in the Section 4AA championship game.

This marks Stillwater's first title in five section finals appearances.

This marks Stillwater’s first title in five section finals appearances.

Ponies players and fans celebrate the program’s first-ever section championship.

Ponies players and fans celebrate the program’s first-ever section championship.

 

 

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