Justice was served for the Alexandria girls’ hockey team. Danielle Justice turned in a great game and tournament in goal for the Cardinals, as they defeated Breck 2-1 to capture the Class A title Saturday. It is Alexandria’s first state title, the best way to end their string of 4-straight years of first round exits.
“You’re just kinda numb, it’s just so hard to believe, you work so hard for this end of the year goal, and to pull it off just puts you in shock,” said Alexandria head coach Mitch Loch. “It’s a great feeling and these girls truly deserve it. Some of these girls have, as I say, put up with me for 5-years. It’s been time well spent, I truly appreciate every player out there, every player did their role and contributed in some way, and it’s just a great way to cap off their season.”
The key to the game, the title run, and the season was Justice. She entered the tourney having allowed less than a goal a game, and she continued to dominate between the pipes at the X. She had 27-saves in the quarterfinals against South St. Paul, turned away 40-out-of-41 shots in the semis against Roseau, and came up with 30-saves in the championship. Some of her biggest saves in the final came early on, helping to keep the game scoreless while her teammates looked for their rhythm. Her performance did not surprise Loch, who did a little campaigning for his goalie based on her recent resume material.
“She’s a great goaltender, she has been the backbone of the defense for a couple of years,” said Loch. “Currently she is going to go to a division three school. My opinion of it is if any division one school is looking for a goaltender, there’s your goaltender. She truly deserves the opportunity to play at the division one level, and I think she could be successful there as well.”
With Justice doing her thing, the Cardinals offense got things going midway through the second period. Michelle Anez made a nice move at center ice, and passed the puck across ice to Abby Williams heading into the Breck zone. Williams then found Kathryn DelZoppo back on the other side in the circle, and she wristed it near-side top shelf for the 1-0 lead.
Less than 5-minutes later, Anez made it 2-0 on a nice individual effort. She picked up the puck in the neutral zone and headed up the near boards. She had some defenders on her as she cut towards the net, but took the shot and had it deflect and knuckle past Breck goalie Courtney Nygaard.
It stayed 2-0 for most of the 3rd thanks to Justice, but Breck made it interesting with 3:13 remaining in regulation. Milica McMillen picked off an Alexandria attempted clearing pass, skated in and flicked it just past Justice into the top corner to make it 2-1. The key now for the Cardinals was to remain calm.
“You have to maintain your composure for the girls. If you’re strong, they will come out strong,” explained Loch. “We kept the puck to the outside, and if you do that Danielle will not give up anything from the outside. We protect the slot area, we call it the house. We keep everybody out of the house and keep the house clean and good things are going to happen.”
The Mustangs knocked at the door a couple of times in the final seconds, but Justice and the Cardinals stood strong. And after all the one-and-done’s, Alexandria is finally number one.