The Alexandria girls hockey team capped off its first Section 8AA regular season with an impressive 5-2 win over the St. Cloud Icebreakers in comeback fashion.
The Cardinals (16-6-3) came into Thursday night’s section meeting at the Runestone Community Center on a three-game win streak. With one last chance to work the kinks out before the postseason, Alexandria picked up its fifth section win of the season.
“We are going to keep chipping away and building confidence,” Alexandria head coach Molly Arola said. “Confidence is huge. Not just in hockey, but in everything in life. We have sections coming up (this) week, and we are moving in the right direction.”
St. Cloud (14-10) had a chance to take an early lead when an Icebreaker snuck the puck past Alexandria goalie Jordan O’Kane midway through the first period. The official waved off the goal as St. Cloud committed a crease violation.
It looked as if the first period was going to end in a stalemate. That was until St. Cloud sophomore forward Katherine Bell scored two goals in 18 seconds with under two minutes to play. Senior Tayler Mathiasen assisted on both tallies.
“We came out flat in the first period,” Arola said. “We didn’t come ready. We quickly regrouped and reminded them what their potential is and what they’re capable of.”
Like many times throughout the season, the Cardinals put together a big second period. Freshman Lauren Maras cut the deficit in half three minutes into the frame with an assist from Anna Doherty.
Sophomore Hanley Block tied the game four minutes later before sophomore Kaci Trosvig scored the go-ahead goal. The Cardinals outshot the Icebreakers 11-5 in the second period while holding constant pressure in the offensive zone.
This wasn't the first time where Alexandria found its stride after the first intermission. The Cardinals have scored 43 of their 93 goals in the second period this season.
“I wish I knew the answer for that, but sometimes it just happens,” Arola said. “The good thing with that is it means we are able to respond if we get down.”
Trosvig provided an insurance goal with just under five minutes remaining in the third period, which forced St. Cloud to pull its goalie with four minutes left trailing by two. The Icebreakers had several quality scoring chances but stopped all of them.
Doherty finished her three-point night with an empty-net goal. From the start of the second period to the final horn, the Cardinals were in control of the game.
“Going down 2-0 is hard,” Arola said. “Being able to come back and hold that lead against a section opponent is a testament to our girls and what they deserve. That’s what we are capable of doing.”
The Cardinals have a lot of practice time now before the first-round game of the Section 8AA playoffs on Saturday. They finished the season winning nine of their last 10 games. However, Alexandria isn’t hanging its hat on its accomplishments.
“A little bit of rest will be good,” Arola said. “We are going to keep pushing hard in practice though. We need to do what we can to get ourselves ready for that first-round game next week.”
Alexandria currently sits in third place, according to the QRF ratings on Minnesota-Scores. Above them are the two most recent section champions. Roseau (16-5-2) is currently in the top spot with Brainerd-Little Falls (14-8-1), not far behind. The official section seeding will be made on Wednesday.
“Our speed and our talent is our biggest strength,” Arola said. “I still think we have more potential than what we’ve shown so far this year. If we’re able to put it all together, anything can happen.”
ST. CLOUD 2 0 0 - 2
ALEXANDRIA 0 3 2 - 5
SCORING- FIRST PERIOD- St. Cloud- Katherine Bell (Taylor Mathaisen) 15:09; St. Cloud- Bell (Gabbie Rud, Mathiasen) 15:27; SECOND PERIOD- Alexandria- Lauren Maras (Anna Doherty) 2:56; Alexandria- Hanley Block (Makenna Aure) 7:03; Alexandria- Kaci Trosvig (Doherty, Mayson Toft) 14:45; THIRD PERIOD- Alexandria- Trosvig (Maras) 11:01; Alexandria- Doherty (Toft) empty net, 14:57; SHOTS- Alexandria- 6 10 11 - 27; St. Cloud- 11 5 8 - 24; PENALTIES- Alexandria- 4 minutes on 2 infractions; St. Cloud 2 minutes on 1 infraction; GOALTENDING- Alexandria- Jordan O’Kane, W, 22 saves, 2 goals allowed; St. Cloud- Ashlea Arvidson 22 saves, 4 goals allowed