In last season’s girls state hockey tournament, Edina defeated Rosemount 6-0 in the Class 2A quarterfinals. The coaches in that game -- Edina’s Laura Slominski and Rosemount’s Tracy Cassano -- were not only hockey teammates at the University of Minnesota, they were roommates, team captains and they won a national championship together in 2000.
The teams coached by Slominski and Cassano met again on Tuesday evening at Braemar Arena in Edina, but this time there was a new twist on the rivalry: Cassano is now the coach at Chaska-Chanhassen.
But some things never change. The coaches were walking off the ice together after Edina -- the No. 3 team in the Let’s Play Hockey Class 2A rankings – recorded a 2-0 victory when Slominski said to Cassano, “You guys look good, you have a really good team.”
Cassano replied, “Same to you guys. And we’re still waiting to score a goal against you.”
Whether it’s February or November, the Edina Hornets indeed have had the edge on Cassano. But Tuesday’s early-season contest was a solid reminder of how long the hockey season can be and how much work is required to get a program to the highest level.
Slominski has taken the Hornets to those heights. Now in her fourth year at the helm in Edina, her teams know nothing less than the state semifinals. They finished third at state in 2009 and played in the last two state championship games, losing to Roseville 4-0 in 2010 and to Minnetonka 3-2 last season.
This season Edina has a record of 4-1-1, giving Slominki a career record at Edina of 73-18-8.
“Since I’ve been here, all three years we’ve been to state and it’s been a lot of success so far,” she said. “These girls, coming up they’ve seen that and they want to be a part of it, and I think it’s kind of a year for us to regroup and make sure we’re ready to go to make that final run.”
Every successful team loses quality players to graduation, but Edina looks poised for another very good season. Five Hornets were named to the all-state tourney team last season, and the only senior was forward Sami Reber. Back this season are senior defenders Ali Austin and Megan Armstrong, senior goalie Maddie Dahl and junior forward Sarah Nielsen.
Armstrong had one of Tuesday’s goals on a power play, junior Liz Trautz scored the other goal unassisted and Dahl notched her first shutout of the season. The Chaska/Chanhassen Storm Hawks played a very solid first period, outshooting Edina 8-6 and trailing 1-0. After that, the Hornets’ strength and skill was evident.
“It was a really good battle, a good game,” Cassano said. “Edina obviously is one of the top teams in the state and every year they’re there. So I think it’s a good measuring stick for us as far as how we stack up against some of those top teams. I thought the kids came out and worked hard. In the first period I thought we looked pretty tough and in the second period I felt like they really took it to us and they used their speed and their physicalness. We got behind by those two goals and we couldn’t quite put one past Maddie Dahl.”
Chaska/Chanhassen sophomore goaltender Laura Chalupsky played very well, stopping 24 shots in a backup role. Starter Carly Van Orden, another sophomore, is on the shelf while she recovers from mononucleosis.
“I thought Laura stepped up, played solid and made great saves,” said Cassano. “She really stepped up her game and kept us in there. She gave us a chance to possibly win, and that’s all you can ask.”
The loss was Chaska/Chanhassen’s first after opening the season with victories over Farmington, Holy Family Catholic/Waconia and Holy Angels. Edina had defeated Eastview, Lakeville South and Blake while losing to Breck and tying Blaine.
Next up for Edina is a road trip that is both long (on miles) and short (on duration). The Hornets will get on a bus Friday morning and head for Roseau, where they will play that evening. They will play in Warroad on Saturday afternoon before driving home.
“The girls are excited,” Slominski said. “It’ll be seven or eight hours on a bus, so it’ll be good.”
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: 1
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