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HSSR Hockey Game of the Week: White Bear Lake vs. Hill Murray

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. – If aliens from space came to Earth to study Minnesota, Aldrich Arena on Friday night would have been a good place to start. The only problem is that they wouldn’t be able to get in. Tickets for the Section 4AA Finals and Rivalry Game between Hill Murray and White Bear Lake sold out in less than 10 minutes.

This section final is a spectacle every year, so of course the hall was packed to the rafters.

Those dressed in orange and black didn’t have to wait long before erupting. 36 seconds into the game, White Bear Lake scored on a bouncing puck and got the ideal start thanks to Jack Stanius.

That score held for almost 50 minutes.

In the second period the Bears had a good attacking opportunity, Hill Murray’s Andrew Lane made a clean sweep, all but Nolan Roed.

The Pioneers nearly tripled White Bear Lake’s shots through two periods.

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WBL started the third period with a 4-on-3 but could not convert.

Later a golden opportunity arose, but Hill-Murray’s Caden Zasada sent the ball high wide. The Pioneers had the most pressure for much of the night.

But they committed a holding penalty with less than two minutes left and when the Pioneer goalkeeper was pulled, Blake Eckerle sealed the goal with an empty net goal from the side of the net.

The Bears added another empty netter, White Bear Lake won the match 3-0 as the Bears and their fans celebrated an important victory.

“This is awesome, I mean, there’s no better feeling than this, going to the X, this is awesome,” junior goaltender Leo Gabriel said.

Junior forward Jack Stanius was absolutely ecstatic with how things unfolded for the Bears.

“It was a big one, but it all started with a good shot on net,” Stanius said. “I was just there to finish the goal.”

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Hill Murray defeated the Bears by a wide margin, but great goaltending secured the victory. White Bear Lake returns to the state tournament for the first time since 2019.

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