Card girls' hockey: Two losses end state tourney
The Alexandria girls' hockey team knew things would not come easy from the get-go at this year's state tournament.
The Cardinals drew a loaded Warroad team in the first round that was looking to repeat as the Class A state champions. The Warriors used that game as a stepping stone with a 7-0 win that propelled them to another state title after beating South St. Paul 5-1 on Saturday.
That knocked Alexandria to the consolation bracket to face a Red Wing team that almost pulled off an upset a day earlier against fourth-seeded Eveleth-Gilbert. The Wingers were determined to finish their season on a positive note as they beat the Cardinals 5-2 on their way to winning the consolation championship on Saturday.
Alexandria outshot the Wingers but could not get anything past goaltender Quinn McGough until Red Wing had already built a 3-0 lead. McGough stopped 34 shots on the day as her offense got one in the first and two in the second to take a lead they would not relinquish.
"I thought it took us a little bit to get going," head coach Mitch Loch said. "I thought we did a lot of things well, but were unable to get anything by their goaltender early. Once they took a lead, it was such an uphill climb to try to get back in the game."
The Cardinals finally got one past McGough at the 4:16 mark in the third. Rachael Finley got her team's first goal of the tournament off assists from Alia Kopischke and Kalley Kragenbring.
They could never close the deficit to less than that, though. The Wingers had an answer 46 seconds later to push their lead back to three. Claire Illies made it a 4-2 game near the nine-minute mark off an assist from Shelby Iverson before Annie Gorman secured the win for Red Wing with a goal at 15:37.
The Cardinals knew they would have to play a perfect game to have a chance against Warroad a day earlier. The Warriors have four players on their team with more than 60 points this season. Karley Sylvester and Layla Marvin both helped the U.S. Under-18 girls' hockey team to a gold medal at the world tournament in January.
The Cardinals just couldn't keep up with that on Wednesday night. The Warriors put up points in bunches, twice scoring two goals less than a minute apart on their way to the 7-0 win.
"I think we were very nervous," Loch said. "That's the best way to describe it. We're pretty young, a lot of juniors who, they've been here but just didn't quite know how to experience everything yet. [They seemed] really nervous about getting that regular shift during the entire game."
The Warriors did not waste any time setting the tone. They jumped out 4-0 after the first period by scoring two goals in the final minute. They added three more in the second by outshooting Alexandria 16-0. The game left Loch feeling like no one would be able to slow down a dominant Warroad lineup.
"They're a train that's moving fast and moving in the right direction," he said on Wednesday night. "If you get in their way, you better have an answer for them or find a way to push back because they're going to keep coming at you, keep coming at you, and they're going to fight with everything they got to win this tournament."
That is exactly what they did over the next three days. Warroad wrapped up its second straight title by overcoming a 1-0 deficit with five goals in the third period against South St. Paul.
Alexandria was left to look back on a season that saw it experience a lot of ups and downs. The Cardinals started 7-2-1 before going 1-13-1 in their final 15 games during the regular season. They rebounded with three straight wins to secure their seventh state tournament appearance in the last eight years.
"It was definitely a roller coaster ride with a lot of ups and downs," Loch said. "But the last part, by reaching the state tournament we were able to accomplish some of our goals that we had at the beginning of the season. If there's one goal that you want to reach, that's the one...yes we would have liked to get a few more wins, but the final outcome is we were one of the last eight teams standing in the Class A field."
RED WING 1 2 2 - 5
ALEXANDRIA 0 0 2 - 2
SHOTS - Red Wing - 9, 15, 7 - 31; Alexandria - 11, 11, 14 - 36
SCORING SUMMARY - FIRST PERIOD - Red Wing - Nicole Schammel (Haley Reagan, Haley Paige), 15:33
SECOND PERIOD - Red Wing - Schammel (Reagan, Elle Anderson), 5:35; Red Wing - Paige (Reagan, Nicole Schammel), 14:10
THIRD PERIOD - Alexandria - Rachael Finley (Alia Kopischke, Kalley Kragenbring), 4:16; Red Wing - Annie Gorman, unassisted, 5:02; Alexandria - Claire Illies (Shelby Iverson), 8:57; Red Wing - Gorman, unassisted, 15:37
GOALTENDING - Red Wing - Quinn McGough - W, 34 saves, 36 shots faced; Alexandria - Stephanie Drown - L, 26 saves, 31 shots faced
ALEXANDRIA 0 0 0 - 0
WARROAD 4 3 0 - 7
SHOTS - Alexandria - 4, 0, 4 - 8; Warroad - 12, 16, 11 - 39
SCORING SUMMARY - FIRST PERIOD - Warroad - Megan Brettingen (Abby Wilmer), 2:28; Warroad - Layla Marvin (Lisa Marvin), 6:11; Warroad - Kayla Gardner (Lisa Marvin), 16:02; Warroad - Lisa Marvin (Kayla Gardner), 16:44
SECOND PERIOD - Warroad - Layla Marvin (Gardner, Megan Brettingen), 9:40; Warroad - Gardner (Lynn Astrup), 9:50; Warroad - Layla Marvin (Karley Sylvester, Brettingen), 16:42
THIRD PERIOD - No scoring
GOALTENDING - Alexandria - Drown - L, 32 saves, 39 shots faced; Warroad - Shelby Amsley-Benzie - W, 8 saves, 8 shots faced