Alex girls' hockey: Favorites fall shortDetroit Lakes earned its first Section 6A title behind a strong effort in goal from its freshman goaltender
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria girls’ hockey team has had trouble capitalizing on scoring chances at certain times this season and it caught up to the Cardinals at an inopportune time last Friday night.
Alexandria put 45 shots on net but needed an overtime goal to survive against Pequot Lakes in the semifinals of the Section 6A tournament. The lid seemed to still be there in the finals as the Cardinals outshot Detroit Lakes 29-21 but saw their season come to an end in a 2-0 loss to the Lakers.
“We weren’t trying to solve any mysteries tonight,” head coach Andy Shriver said. “Like playing flat or anything like that. It wasn’t any of those issues. We just could not get a puck to go in.”
Alexandria was the aggressor in the final period. The Cardinals peppered the net with 14 shots as they did everything they could to score the equalizer after falling behind 1-0 in the second. Many of those were good opportunities around the net, but the Lakers’ freshman goaltender, Veronica Badurek, stood tall in the biggest game of her young career.
“It was a little nerve wracking,” she said. “But I knew we could do it. We beat them before…I was extremely nervous and extremely excited, but I knew our team could do it.”
Penalties proved to be an important factor throughout the night as 14 minors were called through the first two periods. That bogged down the pace of play and kept both teams from gaining much momentum. Five-on-five play was almost nonexistent in the second period as the two teams combined for eight minors.
“We felt like we dominated five-on-five play all night,” Shriver said. “We got into a ton of penalty trouble, some of which was self inflicted for sure and some that was a little mysterious.”
As the game went along, one got the feeling that the team that could score first would take control of the game. The Lakers finally got the all-important first goal at 6:28 in the second period when Brianna Seebold snuck one between the legs of Stephanie Drown.
The Cardinals thought they had tied things up later in the period. Junior Shelby Iverson got her stick on an airborne puck and deflected it toward the net. Both teams thought it snuck inside the right corner as Alexandria celebrated. It proved to be premature as the refs took a closer look and realized that the puck was stuck in the netting outside the goal.
That was as close as Alexandria would get to lighting the lamp against Badurek. She said her goal was to lead her team to a state tournament before her career was over. She took care of that early by playing well beyond her years before junior Callie Johnson added the empty netter in the final seconds to secure their team’s first-ever section title.
“I think any time a goalie’s able to put up a zero, especially against someone who’s seeded higher than you and out-shoots you, that’s a huge game,” Shriver said of Badurek. “That’s one that she’ll remember. When she’s graduated, she’ll look back on her freshman year, and it will be one of her most important and most impressive wins, so absolutely we tip our hats to what she did in goal and what DL was able to do defensively.”
Shriver said he thought his team was confident coming into the game against a team it had beaten 6-3 the last time they played, but admitted if there was any doubt it might have started with three games left in the regular season. Alexandria outshot Pequot Lakes 38-16 on January 31 but was forced to settle for a 2-2 tie against a very young Patriots team.
“We didn’t really have an answer for how that happened,” Shriver said. “Especially when we felt like we were the better team. We thought we played pretty well and yet we weren’t able to get the scores we needed to make it decisive. If there were any question marks, it probably came from that.”
The Cardinals responded with two straight wins against St. Cloud and Moorhead to wrap up the regular season before those issues reappeared in the overtime win against the Patriots in the playoffs. In the end, those missed opportunities finally proved costly, as the Cardinals were shut out for just the second time this season and the first time since November 26.
Alexandria finished the season 13-13-1 and stopped short of the state tournament for just the second time in the last nine seasons. The Cardinals rebounded from an 0-6 start to reach the title game and finished second at 8-4 in the Central Lakes Conference. Those were things this team could hang its hat on, but it didn’t ease the pain as many players couldn’t hold back the tears after coming up short of their ultimate goal.
“Obviously it’s hard not to think about the ending right now,” Shriver said. “That’s what’s fresh in our minds…but as we get further away from this game, I think we’ll be able to look back on the season – one thing was coming back from an 0-6 start and finishing the year at .500 now tonight. That was impressive and showed a lot of character and the long-term commitment that the girls had to have.”
DETROIT LAKES 0 1 1 – 2
ALEXANDRIA 0 0 0 – 0
SHOTS – Detroit Lakes – 5, 10, 6 – 21; Alexandria – 9, 6, 14 – 29; Power plays – Detroit Lakes – 0-9; Alexandria – 0-5
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – No scoring
SECOND PERIOD – Detroit Lakes – Brianna Seebold (Emily Raboin), 6:28
THIRD PERIOD – Detroit Lakes – Callie Johnson (empty net), 16:24
GOALTENDING – Detroit Lakes – Badurek – W, 29 saves, 29 shots; Alexandria – Stephanie Drown – L, 19 saves, 20 shots