Eagles have four-point lead late in the regular season

Apple Valley is closing in on its first South Suburban Conference girls hockey championship, since the league formed almost 10 years ago.

The Eagles are 12-3 in the conference and 17-4 overall after winning at defending league champion Eagan 5-2 on Tuesday night. They are four points ahead of Farmington in the SSC standings with three conference games remaining.

Apple Valley will have several chances to win the outright title. Two victories in their final three league games would give the Eagles the championship regardless of what any of the pursuers do. Farmington, Lakeville South and Eastview still have mathematical chances of finishing first.

About two weeks ago Farmington tied Apple Valley for first in the SSC after defeating the Eagles 4-3 in overtime. Since then Apple Valley has won four in a row to put itself back in control of the race, while Farmington split four conference games.

The Eagles trailed Eagan 2-1 after one period, but outshot the Wildcats 10-3 in the second and got goals from Mandy Moran (her second of the game) and Grace Lankas to take the lead. Defender Sydney Johnson scored two goals 1 minute, 22 seconds apart in the third period to push Apple Valley’s lead to three goals.

Mandy Moran and Johnson each had two goals and one assist for Apple Valley. Marie Moran and Makayla Moran, Mandy’s sisters and linemates, each had two assists. Goalie Keni Allen made 23 saves.

Emily Cronkhite and Carly Marsh scored for Eagan, which is 10-10-2 overall and 5-8-2 in the conference.

Apple Valley plays a non-conference game at Simley at 7 p.m. Thursday before returning to league play against Rosemount at home at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles play Eastview at home Tuesday, Jan. 28. Eagan plays at Farmington at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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