The Andover Huskies celebrate their Section 7AA title with their fans after Thursday's game.
On Feb. 12, 2015, an Andover freshman named Claire Butorac scored in overtime to send her Huskies to the Class 2A State Tournament with a 3-2 win over Section 7 rival Elk River/Zimmerman.
Three years later, Butorac would again send her team to St. Paul, netting a goal and adding two assists as the Huskies skated past Forest Lake 3-0 on Thursday night at Fogerty Arena in Blaine.
“Claire plays just as well defensively as she does offensively,” Andover coach Melissa Volk said after the game.
“In the big games, she always shows up.”
The top-seeded Huskies’ forward line of freshman Peyton Hemp, sophomore Jamie Nelson and the senior Butorac bedeviled the No. 2 seed Rangers (21-5-2) all evening, with each skater registering a goal.
“There is a little bit of magic here at Fogerty,” Butorac said with a grin. “I love playing here, even in the summertime I feel good on this rink.
The Huskies celebrate Jamie Nelson's goal in the first period of Thursday's win.
While the scoreboard shows a feasibly dominant win for the Huskies, who outshot the Rangers 36-24, Forest Lake had a chance to tie the game at 1-1 early in the period with a five-on-three power play advantage for more than 90 seconds.
“(The butterflies) were definitely fluttering, but we had worked a lot on killing and getting in shooting lanes this week,” Volk said.
Butorac was one of the offenders serving her sentence in the penalty box during the kill and said she wasn’t anxious.
“We take a lot of pride in our penalty kill,” Butorac said.
“I was sitting in the box, unfortunately, (but) I knew we (had) this.”
Butorac, a Minnesota State commit, would score soon after the Huskies (21-6-1) completed the kill, while Hemp tacked on a final goal in the last minute of regulation.
Butorac’s linemates Hemp and Nelson are committed to Minnesota and Minnesota State respectively.
After advancing to the state tournament as a freshman, Butorac suffered through back-to-back seasons of playoff disappointment and said that her sophomore and junior seasons made her senior campaign that much sweeter.
“I think there’s something about knowing that it could be your last game, and especially this year I’m a senior, and you never want your senior season to end.
Cassidy Stumo ended Thursday's win with 24 saves to earn the shutout.
There are 15 underclassmen on the Forest Lake roster, and 13 underclassmen on the Andover roster.
A grand total of four seniors combined will be departing these programs.
Forest Lake goaltender Josie Bothun completed Thursday's loss with 33 saves.