Girls Hockey: Second period flurry helps Alexandria beat the St. Cloud Crush in Section 8AA quarterfinals
Alexandria trailed 1-0 with less than six minutes left in the second period but swung momentum in its favor with three goals in less than 90 seconds which helped it earn a playoff win on Tuesday.
ALEXANDRIA - Five days before playing the sixth-seeded St. Cloud Crush in the first round of the Section 8AA playoffs, things didn't go as planned for the Alexandria girls hockey team in its final game of the regular season as it lost 3-2 at home to the St. Cloud Crush.
And early on, things looked like they were going to go St. Cloud's way once again on Tuesday, as it led 1-0 midway through the second period.
But with three goals in just over one minute of game time, Alexandria, who is the No. 3 seed in the section, took control of the game and won 6-3 on Tuesday at the Runestone Community Center.
"I feel like we came out excited out of the locker room in the second and got the momentum that we wanted back after being down 1-0," Alexandria sophomore Kennedy Ellingson said.
Ellingson knocked down the first domino for Alexandria (14-11-1) by scoring the team's first goal of the game with 5:45 left in the second period.
"I was excited; I felt like it got the excitement going," Ellingson said. "Then after that, we were just like, coming at them, getting goal after goal, and when they would score on us, we'd get one back."
Senior Ella Westlund scored the go-ahead goal 44 seconds later, which was quickly followed by a goal from junior Sophia Korynta 28 seconds later.
"I think that was really huge, and it obviously was a big momentum booster," Alexandria head coach Molly Arola said. "The girls just finally started making some plays. They saw the plays develop, they were connecting, and they were getting pucks and bodies on net."
Alexandria increased its lead to three with a goal by freshman Lillian Dutton with 12:15 left in the third period. However, Lauren Juncewski, with 7:58 left, cut Alexandria's lead back down to two.
Sophomore Cadence Ellingson scored with 5:35 left to put the Cardinals back up by three.
"We had grit, momentum, and we just wanted it more," Cadence said. "It was good to get this one back on them."
Jenna Amundson, who scored early in the second frame to put the St. Cloud Crush (8-18) up 1-0, scored with 2:58 left to cut its deficit to one, but an empty net goal by junior Kylie Lattimer with 2.3 seconds left in the game gave the Cardinals the win by three goals.
"I think we just made some plays in this one that we didn't back on Thursday (Feb. 2)," Arola said. "We had a little bit more grit in ourselves and did a couple of the little things a lot better."
Senior Lauren Maras and sophomore Tayler Treat each had two assists in the win, while Korytna, Cadence Ellingson, sophomore Emma Ramstorf, senior Aubrie Porter, and sophomore Julia Doherty had one assist.
The Cardinals finished the contest with a 35-30 shot on goal edge.
Sophomore Hunter Sellnow earned the win in net for the Cardinals and collected 27 saves on the night.
"We did some nice things again defensively, but we do need to sharpen some things up some more," Arola said. "With both our D and forwards, there are some things we need to clean up on. We've got to be sharp and clean on every single shift at this point on in the season."
Alexandria is now set to face the No. 2 seed Roseau in Roseau on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Section 8AA semifinals.
"We're going to have to come on excited and want it more than the other team," Kennedy said. "We can't let down if we are down. We've got to keep grinding it out until the end, and we play to the last buzzer."
Roseau beat Alexandria 3-1 on Nov. 18, 2022 , and 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 14, 2023 . Roseau beat Buffalo/Maple Lake 4-0 on Thursday to get to Saturday's semifinal.
"We've got to be working hard, and we've got to do the little things right," Arola said about the matchup against Roseau. "We need to clean up our D zone coverage and work on both forwards and our D. We need to keep getting pucks and bodies on the net, and we've got to use our speed well too."
Alexandria comes into Saturday's semifinal game having won five out of its last six, including its last four road games.
Roseau comes into Saturday's game with some momentum as well as it has won five out of its last six as well.
Alexandria and Roseau last met in the playoffs in the 2021 Section 8AA Championship game, where Alexandria won 2-1 .
The Cardinals and Rams both made it to the section semifinals last season, but both were eliminated with one-goal losses (Alexandria lost 4-3 to Brainerd-Little Falls, and Roseau lost 5-4 to Moorhead).
The winner of Saturday's semifinal will face either the No. 1 seed Moorhead (18-8) or the No. 5 seed Brainerd/Little Falls (14-9-3) in the Section 8AA Championship on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at a neutral site.