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Girls hockey: Woodbury resident part of unusual run to state tourney

Katelyn Petronack of Woodbury, and a member of the St. Paul United girls hockey team, took part in a state tournament run that happened in an unusual way.

“My team was very happy for the opportunity to compete at the state tournament, but we were also slightly sad that we didn’t get the joy of winning the section championship competitively,” Petronack said.

United was scheduled to play Achiever Academy in the section finals to play for a trip to the Xcel Energy Center. Yet, investigations had dug up Achiever’s questionable enrollment practices, prompting the online school with accelerated hockey training to pull out of the section final. That forfeit punched United’s ticket to the X, and any disappointment of not playing in the final evaporated.

“Once we found out though, we celebrated at our home rink, Drake, by dancing, running up and down the bleachers, and hugging one another,” Petronack said.

Petronack, a freshman at Visitation, had seen playing time throughout the season at defender. She had three assist on the season for the United co-op, which is made up of Visitation and St. Paul Academy.

She assisted on a goal in their section tournament opener over Simley, a 5-1 win. United went on to edge defending section champion South St. Paul 3-2 before the Achiever forfeit. United made the most of it too at the state tournament, beating Proctor-Hermantown 5-2 in the quarterfinals on Feb. 19.

“Making the semifinal tournament game was historic,” Petronack said. “United had never made it that far in the past. We made history, and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

United fell to state-runner up East Grand Forks in the semifinals 3-2 on Feb. 21. United (18-9-2) took home fourth-place after losing to Red Wing in the third place game 5-2 on Feb. 22.

“I especially remember walking onto the home bench before the last game and I stood motionless overlooking the ice,” Petronack said. “State was such a blur, and seeing the ice and arena so motionless made the grandness of the event sink in.”

Petronack played in the Woodbury Hockey Club prior to high school from Termites on up. She credits coaches Paul Motzko, Will Donovan, Monte French and Kevin Featherstone in developing into a varsity player.

“These four coaches helped me to be the player I am today and helped me to love the game,” Petronack said. “I am so grateful.”

-Matthew Davis