High School Girls Hockey: Willmar Cardinals earns CLC championship, 5-1
Cardinals beat Otters to capture first conference title in 19 years
WILLMAR — For the first time in 19 years, Willmar girls hockey stands atop the Central Lakes Conference.
The Cardinals secured the CLC championship after beating Fergus Falls 5-1 Thursday night at the Willmar Civic Center.
“That was one of our goals, trying to move up in the conference every year,” said Willmar head coach Eric Setrum. “We felt like we had a good chance this year if we took care of our home ice.”
Setrum added, “It’s a hell of an accomplishment for the girls. Almost 20 years and it hasn’t been close. … It’s a testament to this group and how hard they work. The success they’ve had and the hard work in the offseason to get to this point has been pretty amazing.”
Since finishing third in 2004-05, the highest Willmar has finished in the CLC standings prior to this season is fifth.
The Cardinals jumped on the Otters early with four first-period goals. Bailey Olson got the scoring going in a rather unorthodox fashion with back-to-back unassisted short-handed goals at 5:59 and 6:52. Then in the final minute of the first, Willmar tacked on two more goals courtesy of Madison Garberding and Nina Dawson.
After Fergus Falls got off to a strong start in the teams’ first meeting on Feb. 11, a 3-3 tie, Willmar was set on starting off hot on Thursday.
“They came out hard up there (in the first game) and we didn’t match their intensity and we had to battle back hard,” Setrum said. “We managed to get it back even. Then in overtime, we ran out of gas. We didn’t want that to happen here. The girls did a good job being ready to go right from the start.”
Ashley Larson added a third-period goal for the Cardinals as she and Dawson finished the game with a goal and an assist each.
In net, Halle Mortensen had 18 saves for Willmar.
Along with the conference title, Setrum said that Thursday’s win should lock up the top seed in Section 6A. The Cardinals will find out their postseason fate when section seeding takes place Sunday.
Willmar wraps up the regular season at 3 p.m. Saturday against Alexandria back at the Civic Center.
Fergus Falls 1
Fergus Falls (8-8-1) 0 0 1 — 1
Willmar (11-5-1) 4 0 1 — 0
FIRST PERIOD – (1) W: Bailey Olson (unassisted), 5:59 SH … (2) W: Olson (unassisted), 6:52 SH … (3) W: Madison Garberding (Makenna Larson), 16:07 … (4) W: Nina Dawson (Ashley Larson, Tanna Christensen), 16:37.
SECOND PERIOD – No goals.
THIRD PERIOD – (5) W: A. Larson (Dawson), 1:40 … (6) FF: Ellie Andersen (Jadyn Bye), 1:59.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – FF: Lexi Metcalf 30/35 … Willmar: Halle Mortensen 18/19.
River Lakes 8,
Prairie Centre 0
Eighth-ranked (Class A) River Lakes got a shutout win in its home finale, beating Prairie Centre at the Koronis Civic Arena in Paynesville.
The Stars’ regular-season finale is scheduled to play at 7:15 p.m. Friday against the St. Cloud Icebreakers at the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex.