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Cardinals fall to Blake in first game of state tournament (w/video)

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Lauren Niska works her way to the front of the Blake goal during Alexandria's opening round game of the state tournament. The Cardinals lost the game 3-2 and will play again tomorrow at 10 a.m. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)2 / 2
The Alexandria girls’ hockey team knew it would have its hands full heading into its game against the defending champions in the opening round of the state tournament.
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And they were up to the task. Alexandria took the game down to the wire before falling to The Blake School 3-2 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center.

“Going against the defending state champs, we knew it was going to be a challenge and a battle,” head coach Blair Hovel said. “We wanted to keep it close, and that’s what we did. We gave ourselves some opportunities; we just weren’t able to cash in on a few of them.”

Melissa Drown scored both goals for the Cardinals, once in the first period to tie the game at 1-1 and again in the third period to pull Alexandria within one.

She said her third period goal was a huge boost for the Cardinals as they tried to erase a two goal deficit.

“They left me wide open in front of their net, which was a huge mistake on their part,” Drown said. “Obviously I cashed in on it. That’s what we wanted to do the whole game, is take advantage of every opportunity that they gave us.”

Goaltender Amy Jost did her part in keeping the Cardinals in the game during the third period. She picked up 17 of her 33 saves in the period as Alexandria killed off two power plays.

Sophomore Carly Bullock led Blake with two goals in the game, and Sylvie Wallin scored the game winning goal in the third period.

Hovel said it was import for the Cardinals to play a strong defense against a dangerous Blake offense, led by Bullock who had scored 45 goals heading into the state tournament.

“They’ve got some skills,” Hovel said. “They have really good hands where if you don’t hit them in the body they are going to take advantage.”

THURSDAY GAME

After completing their opening round game, the Cardinals were focused on preparing for a consolation round matchup with New Ulm on Thursday morning at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.

The Cardinals prepared for the game by scouting New Ulm during its 1 p.m. opening round tournament game against Red Wing at the Xcel Energy Center. Alexandria was determined to finish the state tournament strong after losing games to Red Wing and Mound Westonka in 2013.

“We’re definitely going to go out there and work hard, and give it to do everything we have,” Nicole Bartels said. “We’re not satisfied with just coming down here and participating, we want to do something and show everything what Alexandria hockey is all about.”

GAME RESULTS

ALEXANDRIA 1 0 1 – 2

BLAKE 1 1 1 – 3

SHOTS – ALEXANDRIA (11, 3, 3) – 17; BLAKE (11, 7, 18) – 36

SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – BLAKE – Carly Bullock, 2:31; ALEXANDRIA – Melissa Drown (Taylor Ellingson, Kaila DeWanz), 3:35

SECOND PERIOD – BLAKE – Bullock (PP) (Lilia Everson), 12:23

THIRD PERIOD – BLAKE – Sylvie Wallin (Sarah Levitt), 11:51; ALEXANDRIA – Drown, 12:19

GOALTENDING – ALEXANDRIA – Jost, 33 saves on 36 shots; BLAKE – Anna Kruesel (15 saves on 17 shots)

Blaze Fugina
Blaze Fugina is the sports editor at the Pierce County Herald. Before working at the Herald, Blaze was a sports reporter at the Alexandria Echo Press for one year and 10 months. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.
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