DELANO — For the second time in as many seasons of Delano girls hockey, the Tigers will play for the chance to go to the Class A state tournament.
Delano put itself in its second consecutive Section 2A title game Tuesday night with a 4-1 win over Mound-Westonka in a semifinal game at the Delano Area Sports Arena.
Although the roster has changed significantly from a season ago, it was Mound-Westonka that denied Delano a state berth in its inaugural season of 2016-17 with a 6-2 win over the Tigers in the section championship game at Gustavus College.
“I have played with half of the girls on this team, so it was fun to beat them and show them what our team is,” said Delano’s Mary Beth Kivisto, who netted the game-winner Tuesday in the second period.
This year’s section championship game returns to Gustavus, where Delano, the top seed, will meet No. 3 New Ulm Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.
“We have to play our game,” said Kivisto. We are Delano girls hockey, and we have to bring it.”
New Ulm defeated Hutchinson 4-1 Tuesday in the semifinals.
Delano and New Ulm met early in the regular season. The Tigers defeated the Eagles 4-3 at the New Ulm Civic Center.
If Delano gets by New Ulm, it will play in the Class A state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center, starting Wednesday, Feb. 21.
For a good stretch of Tuesday’s game, the visiting White Hawks, who were the No. 4 seed, showed that a potential upset of the Tigers was possible, as they took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Delano’s Jamie Byrne tied the game with a shot from the high slot 11 minutes into the second period, and the Tigers and White Hawks raced back-and-forth with no scoring for the next 17 minutes of game time.
The game-winner and dam-breaker came on a breakaway goal by Kivisto at 11:26 of the third period. Kivisto’s low, right-handed shot put the puck off Taylor Smith’s trapper and to the back of the goal.
“That was awesome. The fans were excited,” said Kivisto of her breakaway goal, which was celebrated with a emotional Goldy Shuffle near the Delano student section. She spoke with a fresh bandage on her forehead, protecting a wound she obtained in the first period.
Kivisto’s goal immediately pumped life into the Delano attack.
Sam Stansberry scored less than a minute later and Emily Olson set the goal differential at three with 27 seconds remaining in the game.
Olson and Byrne both finished with two points.
Olson had the lone assist on Kivisto’s game-winner, and Byrne and Stansberry assisted on Sydney Stansberry’s goal.
Meghan Staunton assisted on Byrne’s goal.
Mya Coley scored Mound-Westonka’s goal on a rebound at 11:30 of the first period.
Both teams played solid defense, limiting quality scoring chances by forcing shots from the outside.
In goal, Delano’s Karly Schmidt made 20 saves. Mound-Westonka’s Smith made 26 saves.
DELANO 4, MOUND-WESTONKA 1
Tuesday, Feb. 13
Delano Area Sports Arena
1 2 3 – F
Mound-West 1 0 0 – 1
Delano 0 1 3 – 4
1. MW – Coley (Schmidtke, Courtney), 11:30
2. D – Byrne (Staunton), 11:06
3. D – MB Kivisto (E. Olson), 11:26
4. D – S. Stansberry (Byrne, S. Stansberry), 12:10
5. D – E. Olson (unassisted), 16:33
Shots on goal
Delano 30; Mound-Westonka 21
Delano: Schmidt 21
Mound-Westonka: Smith 26