Under different circumstances, Burnsville girls hockey coach Chris Lepper might have had the mind to slip on his dancing shoes.
Instead, he was down to his stocking feet as he sashayed with the Class 2A, Section 3 championship trophy at center ice — surrounded by his players — after the Blaze’s 6-2 victory over Rosemount at Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights.
He lost the shoes for safety’s sake. The dance was strictly for the girls.
The Blaze (22-5-1) broke open a close game with three unanswered goals in the third period to earn a trip to the state tournament.
Junior forward Madisyn Krumholz broke a 2-2 tie with a goal late in the second period and followed with another early in the third period to give Burnsville some much-appreciated breathing room.
“The timing was perfect on those two goals,” Krumholz said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better than that. I didn’t expect it; I was more focused on (defense). But like Lepper says, if you focus on D zone, offense comes from it.”
Krumholz now has 21 goals on the season, and Lepper said she has been a clutch player all season.
“Madisyn is a gritty, tough kid,” he said. “She just battles, and she knows how to get herself in position to get those opportunities. She’s a goal scorer; she knows how to bury the puck.
“That fourth one was the separator. That’s when we thought that we could win this. But you can’t discount Rosemount because they have so many weapons.”
Krumholz and her teammates were expecting a much closer game.
“I definitely didn’t think this was going to be a 6-2 game,” Krumholz said. “I thought maybe 4-2 with an empty-netter. But after the first period, after we got our jitters out, we played our game. The second and third period, we played our hearts out.”
Rosemount scored 24 seconds into the game, but Lepper said his team didn’t allow it to rattle them.
“When you have kids like this,” he said, “and the season that they’ve been through with all the illnesses and injuries, you know they’re resilient and will come back.”
The Blaze scored a pair of goals less than a minute apart to take a 2-1 lead late in the first period, but Rosemount needed only 15 seconds to tie the game back up.
Krumholz’s goal that proved to be the game-winner came at 13:12 of the second period, and came just after a Burnsville power play had ended.
According to Krumholz, it was actually a loss to Farmington a couple of weeks ago that gave the Blaze the needed focus to reach the state tournament.
“I had may doubts here and there,” Lepper said, “but once we started playing together, and realized we are a very good team, that’s when we hit the gas pedal and just kept going.”