Card boys' hockey: Upset victory for Redbirds
A wild quarterfinal round of the Section 6A boys' hockey tournament has left things wide-open heading into this weekend's semifinal games.
On a night when top-seeded Little Falls was stunned on its home ice, the Alexandria Cardinals persevered for a 4-3 double overtime win in Fergus Falls to advance to the round of four tomorrow night.
The Cardinals overcame first and third-period deficits and a tying goal by the Otters late in regulation to pick up the win. Eight minutes, 39 seconds into the second overtime, Charlie Wensman played the role of hero as he knocked in the game winner in front of the net after Brock Wood got him the puck after winning a face-off.
"I knew we had it in us," head coach Scott Woods said. "We have been close so many times. All we needed was to play [an entire game] and we did that Tuesday night."
Alexandria showed off some mental toughness in the process. The Cardinals were down 1-0 before Scott Hennen tied things a little more than six minutes into the second period.
They then trailed 2-1 midway through the third before getting two goals less than two minutes apart. Jordan Domine started it when he scored a minute, 38 seconds after Fergus had taken that 2-1 lead. Chase Porter then got his first varsity goal off an assist from Domine to make it 3-2 with a little more than five minutes remaining.
The Otters finally found new life with 14 seconds left in regulation. Cole Sonstebo got the tying goal after Fergus Falls pulled goaltender Austin Carr to bring on the extra attacker.
That could have swung the momentum in the Otters' favor. Instead, Alexandria regrouped in the extra session before Wensman's goal won it for them in the second overtime.
"It shows that we have been in that spot many times this year," Woods said of overcoming the emotional letdown of the late goal by the Otters. "We did what we had to do by just continuing to battle."
Sophomore goaltender Ben Allen withstood the pressure by Fergus Falls to pick up the win in his first playoff start. He had 26 saves as the Otters outshot Alexandria 29-22.
The Cardinals' win was just the beginning of a wild night in the Section 6A tournament. The loss for the Otters kept them from reaching the semifinals for the first time in 15 years.
At the same time in Little Falls, St. Cloud Apollo was busy opening up the bracket. The ninth-seeded Eagles got 47 saves from senior goaltender Charlie Pentz on their way to a 3-1 win over the Flyers. It was a victory that sent shockwaves through the rest of the section field.
"I think everyone was shocked," Woods said. "Although Apollo did split with us, tied Willmar and had a close game at the end of the season with Sartell. It is the first time in Section 6A history that the one seed didn't make the finals."
That changes the outlook in what Woods now calls a wide-open section field. Second-seeded Sartell-St. Stephen now turns into the favorite going into its game against third-seeded Willmar on Saturday night.
The Cardinals know the opportunity they have to make their fourth straight section finals appearance. They also know they cannot take this Apollo team lightly. The Eagles beat them 3-1 on December 21 before falling 4-3 on February 3. There will be a lot more on the line when they meet at 6 p.m. at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud on Saturday.
"It will be home ice [for them]," Woods said. "But we will get the home bench and last change. We just need to continue to work as hard as we did last night. We passed well, won races to loose pucks and didn't turn it over within five feet of either blue line."
ALEXANDRIA 0 1 2 0 1 - 4
FERGUS FALLS 1 0 2 0 0 - 3
SCORING SUMMARY - FIRST PERIOD - Fergus Falls - Jake Ahlgren (Blake Brazil), 10:26
SECOND PERIOD - Alexandria - Scott Hennen (Tom Schmidt), 6:04
THIRD PERIOD - Fergus Falls - Brazil (Joe Nathe), 8:16; Alexandria - Jordan Domine (Garrett Skinner, Chase Porter), 9:54; Alexandria - Porter (Domine), 11:41; Fergus Falls - Cole Sonstebo (Devin Johnson), 16:46
FIRST OVERTIME - No scoring
SECOND OVERTIME - Alexandria - Charlie Wensman (Brock Wood), 8:39
GOALTENDING - Alexandria - Ben Allen - W, 26 saves, 29 shots faced; Fergus Falls - Austin Carr - 18 saves, 22 shots faced