Girls hockey: The St. Cloud Crush upend Alexandria in regular season finale

Two first period goals helped the St. Cloud Crush defeat the Alexandria Cardinals on Thursday. The Cardinals are the Central Lakes Conference champions and are set to begin the Section 8AA playoffs.

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Alexandria freshman Lillian Dutton skates forward with the puck in the first period of the team's 3-2 loss to the St. Cloud Crush on Feb. 2, 2023. Dutton had one of Alexandria's goals in the win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA - The Alexandria girls hockey team came into its regular season finale on Thursday against the St. Cloud Crush with a significant moment as it had won five games in a row and six out of its last seven.

But heading into the final period on Thursday, the Cardinals found themselves in a 3-1 hole.

The Cardinals cut their deficit in half with a goal by freshman Lillian Dutton (assist to junior Sophia Korynta) with 13:35 left in the third period to cut Alexandria's deficit to 3-2.

And while the Cardinals had some solid scoring chances to try to tie the game, the Crush held on to earn the 3-2 win in what was both team's final game of the regular season.

"We kind of had to dig ourselves out of a grave," Alexandria senior Lauren Maras said. "We kind of picked up the game a little bit but not as good as we would have liked to. Going into the playoffs, we're all ready to go, and a new season starts now. So we're kind of getting excited for that."


The Cardinals, led by head coach Molly Arola, are trying to put this loss behind them quickly since the Section 8AA playoffs begin on Tuesday.

"She (Coach Arola) told us after the game to just be ready to go to work tomorrow," Alexandria senior Ella Westlund said.

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Alexandria senior Ella Westlund looks for a teammate to pass to during the first period of a game on Feb. 2, 2023, against the St. Cloud Crush. The Crush won the game 3-2 over the Cardinals.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

"She basically said let's forget about the rest of the season, let's come back all brand new, work together and take things one game at a time," Maras said.

The St. Cloud Crush (8-17, 3-7 Section 8AA) got going on the attack early with a goal by Lauren Juncewski four minutes and five seconds into the game. A goal by Molly Burkstrand gave the St. Cloud Crush a 2-0 lead after one period of play.

Alexandria celebrated what it thought was a goal by Dutton with four minutes left in the first frame, but the play was blown dead before the puck went into the net.

Sophomore Lauren Hornstein gave the Cardinals some momentum with a goal (assist to freshman Jersey Severson) with eight minutes left in the second period, which cut their deficit to one.

However, a Maggie O'Hara goal with 4:11 left in the second frame gave the Crush a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame. This would be the last goal the Crush needed to secure the win.

Alexandria lost despite having a slim 24-22 shot on goal edge.


"I'd say the momentum switched after the second period," Westlund said. "We said a few words in the locker room that got us going a bit, but it was enough."

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Alexandria sophomore Lauren Hornstein (18) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the team's game against the St. Cloud Crush on Feb. 2, 2023. The Crush won the game, 3-2, over the Cardinals.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Alexandria had beaten the St. Cloud Crush earlier in the season, 5-0, on Jan. 5 in St. Cloud.

The Cardinals now finish the regular season with a record of 13-11-1 and await their postseason assignment.

Coming into the night, Alexandria was the third-highest-rated Section 8AAA team out of eight in the Class AAA QRF rankings on

The 2022-23 regular season was a successful one for the Cardinals. They finished with a winning record and are the Central Lakes Conference champions with a 10-1-1 conference record.

"Our positivity in the locker room, on the bench, and our playmaking abilities, have really helped us lately," Maras said. "We were working really well in practice with our playmaking with our lines and trying new things. And that kind of helped us get the momentum going. Just being really close with each other, building our team culture, and just having everybody linked together as one instead of playing separately is obviously going to help us, and that's what helped us win the conference championship."

Fergus Falls had the next best conference record (8-2 CLC, 20-4 overall).

Alexandria is now trying to use that positivity to create more success in the playoffs.


"We've built a great bond, and we're always building each other up as a team," Westlund said. "Then when we separate into lines, were always one team cheering each other on, so that's helped given us a lot of momentum."

Alexandria is set to play a playoff game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against the St. Cloud Crush.

The Cardinals defeated Buffalo/Maple Lake, 3-0, in the first round of last season's playoffs but fell 4-3 to Brainerd-Little Falls in the section semifinals.

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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