ST. PAUL – Charlie Strobel and a group of teammates had an idea over the summer and it’s likely the idea is common among hockey teams good enough to make the season last into March.
“We met at [Hill-Murray goalie] Remington Keopple’s house in the summer,” Strobel said.
“I’ll never forget it. We said ‘why don’t we become state champions our senior year?’”
That’s a goal one team can accomplish, and in 2020, that’s Hill-Murray.
The fifth-seeded Pioneers defeated No. 3 Eden Prairie 4-1 in the Class 2A Minnesota State Hockey championship Saturday night, March 7, at the Xcel Energy Center for their fourth title in school history and first since 2008. For the Eagles, Saturday was the second straight defeat in the championship.
“I’ll love these guys forever,” said Strobel, son of Mike Strobel, a member of Hill-Murray’s 1991 championship team. “We’re 2020 state high school champions. We can live with that the rest of our lives and that’s the best feeling in the world right now.”
Strobel scored the Pioneers third and fourth goals to ensure the win and earn himself a spot on the Class 2A All-Tournament Team.
Hill-Murray (22-6-3) controlled the game from the start, holding the edge in shots and scoring chances, and took a one-goal lead into the first intermission with a power play goal scored by Matthew Fleischacker on a point shot through a cluster of bodies in front of the net 7:22 into the game.
Nick Pierre had one assist on the goal and at that point, had assisted on the last five Pioneers goals going back to the quarterfinals. The all-tournament selection left St. Paul with two goals and five assists in three games.
Hill-Murray extended the lead in the second period, thanks to Owen Quast’s goal at the 3:46 mark and Strobel’s wraparound goal with 1:54 left in the second period.
Eden Prairie all-tournament forward Ben Steeves breathed life into the Eagles (23-7-1), and a relaxed crowd, when he put the Eagles on the board 5:49 into the third period with his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament but the excitement and suspense was short lived.
Strobel, the overtime hero in Friday’s semifinal against St. Thomas Academy, scored his fourth goal of the tournament to ice the game for the Pioneers.
All-tournament goaltender Remington Keopple finished the tourney with a .942 saves percentage and stopped 21 shots in Saturday’s win. Axel Rosenlund, also on the all-tournament team, had 25 saves in the loss for Eden Prairie.