High School Hockey: Rematch goes to Willmar Cards

Read how Willmar beat River Lakes 3-2 as Tanna Christensen scores game-winner

021721.S.WCT.Willmar GH Kessa Mara
Willmar junior Kessa Mara passes the puck behind her to senior captain Bailey Olson during Tuesday's Central Lakes Conference game against River Lakes from the Willmar Civic Center. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The River Lakes girls hockey team has waited a year to see Willmar.

The Stars fell to the Cardinals in the 2020 Section 6A final. And nearly a year to the day of that defeat, River Lakes had its chance for revenge.

However, Willmar emerged victorious in the rematch.

Tanna Christensen scored the game-winner with more than six minutes remaining in regulation as the Cardinals earned a 3-2 victory at the Willmar Civic Center.

Willmar, ranked 14th in Class A, sits atop the Central Lakes Conference standings with a 4-0-1 mark and is 6-3-1 overall. No. 6-ranked River Lakes drops to 7-2-1 overall and is 4-2-1 against CLC opponents.


Photo Gallery: River Lakes Stars at Willmar Cardinals

Standing alone near the blue line, Christensen received a pass from senior forward Bailey Olson, ripped a low wrist shot from the point and beat eighth-grade goaltender Kaydence Roeske stick side.

“We knew it was going to be a battle coming in,” Cardinals head coach Eric Setrum said. “They had been sitting on the section final for almost a year. We had to survive the first five minutes, which turned into basically the first period ... We still had trouble matching their intensity at times, but our big players came through at the right time.”

Christensen’s game-winner was the first time the home team led as the Stars controlled play through much of the early portion of the game.

The puck remained in River Lakes’ offensive zone and the visitors out-shot the Cardinals 9-2 in the first period. Willmar was forced to ice the puck on several times to get fresh players on the ice.

While the Stars weren’t able to cash in on a pair of power-play opportunities in the first 17 minutes, their third time with a player advantage was the charm. Brianna Demming opened the game’s scoring after assists from Jordyn Bebus and Sophia Hess early in the second.

Willmar tied it with 1:27 remaining in the period when Olson put home a rebound in front of the net off of a Madison Garberding shot.

River Lakes struck again early in the third. Following a tripping penalty on Makenna Larson, Hannah Zimmer made it 2-1 after scoring on a beautiful wrap-around chance.


Sixteen seconds later, Ashley Larson made sure her team's deficit didn’t last long. The senior forward scooped up a turnover from senior defenseman Olivia Haines and delivered the equalizer on a breakaway.

The Stars pulled Roeske with a minute remaining to gain the 6-on-5 advantage, but Halle Mortensen made multiple saves to preserve the win. The sophomore finished with 27 stops.

Roeske had 17 saves.

Willmar is host to Marshall at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. At the same time, River Lakes plays Bemidji in Paynesville.

The two teams will meet again on March 6 in Richmond.

“The section is going through them one way or another,” Setrum said of River Lakes. “We just got to take care of business between now and then. Whether we see them before the final or in the final, we got to expect them to be there. Hopefully, if we play the way we’re capable, we’ll be there too.”

Willmar 3,
River Lakes 2

River Lakes (7-3-1) 0 1 1 — 2
Willmar (6-3-1) 0 1 2 — 3
FIRST PERIOD – No scoring
SECOND PERIOD – (1) RL: Brianna Demming (Jordyn Bebus, Sophia Hess), 4:53 PP ... (2) W: Bailey Olson (Madison Garberding), 15:33
THIRD PERIOD – (3) RL: Hannah Zimmer (Myckenzie Cremers), 2:50 PP ... (4) W: Ashley Larson (unassisted), 3:06 ... (5) W: Tanna Christensen (Olson, Kessa Mara), 10:46
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – River Lakes: Kaydence Roeske 17/20 … Willmar: Halle Mortensen 27/29

Boys Hockey
River Lakes 6,
Willmar 0

Jacob Philippi and Tanner Stanley both had two goals and two assists in River Lakes’ Central Lakes Conference win over Willmar in Paynesville.

Philippi was responsible for both of the Stars’ first-period goals, with Stanley getting an assist in both. Stanley had a score in the second — along with Cole Pientka and Bennet Bjerke — and River Lakes’ only score in the third.


Goaltender Drew Tangen had 12 saves to get the shutout for the Stars. For Willmar, Gavin Steinwand stopped 28 of 34 shots.

River Lakes will make the trek to Bemidji on Thursday.

Willmar is back on the road Thursday against Sauk Rapids.

Willmar (1-8-0) 0 0 0 — 0
River Lakes (2-3-2) 2 3 1 — 6
FIRST PERIOD – (1) RL: Jacob Philippi (Tanner Stanley, Cole Pientka), 2:24 … (2) RL: Philippi (Stanley), 13:37.
SECOND PERIOD – (3) RL: Pientka (Joel Sowada), 1:42 … (4) RL: Stanley (Philippi), 6:50 … (5) RL: Bennet Bjerke (Chase Schulzetenberg), 16:55.
THIRD PERIOD – (6) RL: Stanley (Philippi, Bjerke), 9:35.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Willmar: Gavin Steinwand 28/34 … River Lakes: Drew Tangen 12/12.

Hutchinson 5,
Litchfield/D-C 4

Brady Knorr’s game-winning goal locked up a hat trick for Hutchinson in a victory against Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato at the Litchfield Civic Center.

The Dragons came into the game as the 15th-ranked team in Class A.

Knorr had two of his goal as part of a four-goal first period for the Tigers. Ty Glaser and KK Starrett also had first-period scores for Hutchinson. Keyton Johnson had a first-period tally for Litchfield/D-C.

Down by three, the Dragons clawed back with a Gavyn Lund goal in the second. They would tie the game at 4-4 after a power-play goal by Logan Benson and the game-tying mark from Daniel Estrada at 6 minutes, 42 seconds. But Knorr and the Tigers got the last laugh with the game-winner at 13:28.

Johnson and Lund both had one goal and one assist in the loss. In net, Dragons goaltender Darby Halonen had 28 saves.

Hutchinson (6-2-1) 4 0 1 — 5
Litchfield/D-C (4-3-2) 1 1 2 — 4
FIRST PERIOD – (1) H: Ty Glaser (Tristan Hoppe, KK Starrett), 6:31 PP … (2) H: Starrett (Joey Croatt, Gavin Hutchins), 10:33 … (3) L/DC: Keyton Johnson (Gavyn Lund), 10:52 … (4) H: Brady Knorr (unassisted), 11:54 … (5) H: Knorr (Croatt, Starrett), 14:05.
SECOND PERIOD – (6) L/DC: Lund (Ryan Schutz), 5:58.
THIRD PERIOD – (7) L/DC: Logan Benson (Grant Grochow), 3:26 PP … (8) L/DC: Daniel Estrada (Johnson), 6:42 … (9) H: Knorr (Starrett, Glaser), 13:28.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Hutchinson: Austin Hagen 24/28 … Litchfield/D-C: Darby Halonen 28/33.

MBA Storm 10,
Prairie Centre 1

Morris/Benson Area scored nine unanswered goals to cruise to a win against Prairie Centre at Benson.

The Storm have won their last four games.

Seven players scored for the home team. Zach Bruns collected a hat trick. Ryan Tolifson added two goals.

Prairie Centre (2-6-0) 1 0 0 — 1
MBA Storm (5-3-0) 2 6 2 — 10
FIRST PERIOD – (1) MBA: Zach Bruns (Kaleb Breuer), 5:38 … (2) PC: Brady Cline (Ethan Hoffman, Zach Deters), 8:41 PP … (3) MBA: Brady Goff (Will Breuer), 14:28.
SECOND PERIOD – (4) MBA: Tim Blume (Ryan Tolifson, W. Breuer), 1:49 … (5) MBA: Bruns (Brady DeHaan), 4:19 … (6) MBA: Bruns (Sam Thompson, DeHaan), 10:16 … (7) MBA: Tolifson (W. Breuer), 11:10 … (8) MBA: W. Breuer (Hunter Blume), 12:42 … (9) MBA: Tolifson (unassisted), 16:46.
THIRD PERIOD – (10) MBA: Trevor Buss (unassisted), 8:06 … (11) MBA: Cole Blume (Buss), 14:16.

GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Prairie Centre: Joe Nedoroscik 41/51 … MBA Storm: Brady Backman 25/26.

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