O’Kane’s memorable playoff stretch aided by support of her teammates

Alexandria junior goaltender Jordan O'Kane made 144 saves in 14 periods of playoff hockey. After a 57-save performance in a double-overtime state Class AA quarterfinal loss to Minnetonka, O'Kane reflects on what helped her be successful.

Jordan O'Kane reaches for the puck with he stick in Alexandria's 2-1 two-overtime loss to Minnetonka in the Class AA state quarterfinal round at the Xcel Energy Center on Mar. 27, 2021. (Collin Nawrocki / SW News Media)

At the 2018 Class A state girls hockey tournament, Jordan O’Kane watched the Cardinals fight valiantly to a third-place finish as an eighth-grader. Since then, she had one goal: to lead her team through the tunnel onto the ice at the Xcel Energy Center. Last Saturday, her dream came true.

“It was so surreal,” O’Kane said. “Just the bright lights and how big it was reminded me of the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, (ND). But the Xcel is more magical than any other rink I’ve played at. It was amazing even to step foot on that ice.”

Jordan O'Kane

It’s common for first-timers to experience nerves on the biggest stage in Minnesota high school hockey, but O’Kane never wavered. Her 57-save performance in Alexandria’s quarterfinal loss to Minnetonka in double overtime was the exclamation point on an unforgettable four-game stretch for the junior goaltender.


In the Section 6A quarterfinals, O’Kane wasn’t tested often against Buffalo-Maple Lake. However, her counterpart, Isabel Varner, made 50 saves for the Bison. The Cardinals survived the Bison’s 2-1 upset scare to advance to the semifinal round.

Jordan O'Kane makes a glove save in Alexandria's 2-1 two-overtime loss to Minnetonka in the Class AA state quarterfinal round at the Xcel Energy Center on Mar. 27, 2021. (Collin Nawrocki / SW News Media)

When the Cardinals needed a save, O’Kane was there. In fact, she was there 41 times in Alexandria’s three-overtime win over Brainerd-Little Falls. She went on to make 36 saves in the Cardinals’ section championship win over top-seeded Roseau.

O’Kane stopped 144 shots in 14 periods while allowing just five goals. Her 96.6 save percentage helped the Cardinals advance to their first Class AA state tournament and push third-seeded Minnetonka to the brink.

“It doesn’t surprise us one bit,” Alexandria head coach Molly Arola said. “That’s why she was between the pipes. She’s been unbelievable, and she’s earned every bit of it. We could not have done what we did without her.”

While O’Kane was quick to credit her success to her teammates, she was often called the “backbone” of this Alexandria squad throughout the postseason. She made up one-half of a successful goalie tandem that Alexandria takes pride in putting on the ice.


Hailee Bailey

Junior Hailee Bailey and O’Kane split time in goal throughout the season, but when the postseason rolled around, the Cardinals rode the hot hand. However, Bailey has experienced what it’s like to play in the state tournament.

In Alexandria’s final state tournament appearance as a Class A team in the 2017-18 season, Bailey started as an 8th-grader. In the quarterfinal round, she posted a 33-save win over St. Paul United before making 18 saves in the Cardinals’ third-place winning game.

O’Kane made the varsity roster for the first time her freshman year during the 2018-19 season. Arola knows she has two great options to put in the crease. But what makes the tandem special is the friendship they share on and off the ice.

“Hailee has been my best friend since 7th grade,” O’Kane said. “It’s crazy to me that we’ve both gotten the opportunity to play at the Xcel. The support that we have for each other is indescribable. Our bond is so strong."

Hailee Bailey takes shots in warm-ups before Alexandria's 2-1 two-overtime loss to Minnetonka in the Class AA state quarterfinal round at the Xcel Energy Center on Mar. 27, 2021. (Collin Nawrocki / SW News Media)

O’Kane and Bailey understand how important it is for Alexandria to have great goaltending to make it far each postseason. Their constant backing of each other has helped the Cardinals get the most out of that position.


“When Hailee started in 8th grade, I had her back the entire year,” O’Kane said. “When we were finally on the same team, we had each other’s backs no matter who was in net. We trust each other. I am so grateful for my friendship with Hailee.”

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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