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Cougars defend state girls’ hockey championship

The Aberdeen Cougars girls' hockey team defended its state championship with a 5-2 win over Sioux Falls on Sunday. The Cougars have now won six of the past seven state titles. Courtesy photo

WATERTOWN – The Aberdeen Cougars are South Dakota Girls’ Varsity Hockey State Champions once again. The Cougars capped off an undefeated season by defeating the Sioux Falls Flyers 5-2 in the title game Sunday afternoon.

The championship is the team’s sixth in the past seven seasons. The only time they didn’t win the title during that span was 2019 when they finished runner-up.

“I’m so proud of this group,” said Cougars Coach Shelby Edwards. “They are truly something special, not only the way they play on the ice, but they way they conduct themselves in all aspects of life.”

Kaitlyn Holland once again set the tone. She scored the first goal of the game for the third time in three days during the state tourney. Holland had a hat trick by the time Sioux Falls scored in the second period.

The Flyers made things interesting with a pair of second period goals to cut the deficit to 3-2 heading into the final period.

“We knew Sioux Falls would come out strong. They aren’t a team that was going to come out already defeated,” Edwards said. “We got a lead in the first period and held on until the end of the second. Unfortunately, we allowed them to come back.”

Aberdeen then finished strong to put the icing on its most recent state title with a pair of goals from Danielle Podoll in the third period.

“Danielle Podoll had a huge goal in the third period and from that point on I knew we were going to be champions,” Edwards said. “I called a time out to allow them to soak in the moment and told them our six seniors were going out together. We pulled the goalie one last time to allow the six girls to finish together. A bold move, but one they deserved!” 

Morgan Dean had three assists on the day, while Podoll had two.

The Cougars outshot Sioux Falls 36-20. Ava Myhre turned in another solid performance in goal for Aberdeen.

The Cougars finished the season with a 19-0 record.

“I’m so proud of this team!” Edwards said.

Sioux Falls Flyers 0 2 0 – 2

Aberdeen Cougars 2 1 2 – 5

First Period: 1, Aberdeen Cougars, Kaitlyn Holland (unassisted), 9:18; 2, Aberdeen Cougars, Holland (Morgan Dean and Danielle Podoll), 9:32

Second Period: 3, Aberdeen Cougars, Holland (Dean), 5:01; 4, Sioux Falls Flyers, Gwyneth Winter (unassisted), 16:09; 5, Sioux Falls Flyers, Kaija Mork (unassisted), 16:16.

Third Period: 6, Aberdeen Cougars, Podoll (Kailyn Poppen), 14:12; 7, Aberdeen Cougars, Podoll (Dean), 16:44.

Goalies: Sioux Falls Flyers, Riley VanderEsch, 36 shots, 31 saves; Aberdeen Cougars, Ava Myhre, 20 shots, 18 saves.

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