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Girls hockey: Cards fall in finale

Tribune photo by Brooke Kern Willmar’s Shelby Schneider chases after the puck as St. Cloud Icebreakers’ forward Tatum Peterson pursues Tuesday at the Willmar Civic Center.

WILLMAR — The Willmar girls hockey team lost in its regular-season finale on Tuesday, but it was the kind of game that left the Cardinals’ coaches optimistic about the team’s chances in the Section 2A playoffs.

St. Cloud goalie Lucy Gaetz made 34 saves and the Icebreakers defeated Willmar 4-1 in a Central Lakes Conference game on Tuesday at the Civic Center.

Willmar’s Jordan Sankey notched her team’s only goal in the first period. It was Sankey’s first varsity goal.

Cardinals goalie Madison Sandberg stopped 46 shots.

The No. 3-seed Cardinals open the 2A quarterfinals against No. 6 Hutchinson on Thursday in Willmar and Willmar head coach JaColby Anderson said the fast-paced nature of the Icebreakers game gave his team a taste of playoff action.

“I have a good feeling about where we’re going to be for Thursday,” Anderson said. “I like this kind of game, a fast-tempo game, because that’s what we’ll face in the playoffs. I think we’ll roll into Thursday at high speed.”

The score of the Icebreakers loss is a bit deceiving, Anderson said.

“We definitely made improvements since the last time we played them (a 5-0 loss to St. Cloud on Nov. 16),” Anderson said. “Their goalie (Gaetz) was hot. We had a lot of second and third chances but we just couldn’t quite bury the puck in the net.”

SC Icebreakers 4, Willmar 1

St. Cloud (6-6 14-10-1)    0  2  2 — 4

Willmar (3-9-1 13-10-1)    1  0  0 — 1

FIRST PERIOD – W: Jordan Sankey (Samantha Block) 13:06

SECOND PERIOD – SC: Mackenzie Feeny 3:20 … SC: Feeny (Alexie Portz, Tatum Peterson) 6:09

THIRD PERIOD – SC: Haley Hjort (Samantha Eisenreich, Peterson) 5:46 … SC: Peterson (Feeny) 6:13

GOALIE SAVES – St. Cloud Icebreakers: Lucy Gaetz 34 … Willmar: Madison Sandberg 46