WILLMAR - After two close regular-season games, Willmar wanted to extinguish any hope for Northern Lakes early in the first round of the Section 6A playoffs.
With three first-period goals, mission accomplished.
Starting with a score from Mya Monson just 1 minute, 18 seconds into the game and finished off with a shorthanded goal from Bailey Olson, the first 17 minutes set the tone for third-seeded Willmar's 8-0 win over the sixth-seeded Lightning Saturday at the Willmar Civic Center.
"They came out hot and that's what we were looking for," said Cardinals head coach Eric Setrum. "We wanted to come out hard right away, get one early, set the tempo and that's what we did. That whole bench was excited, the girls were cheering for each other. That's what we were looking for."
Along with the shorthanded goal, Bailey bumped the Cardinals' lead to 5-0 with a pair of second-period goals that secured a hat trick. Both Mya and Serena Monson had a pair of goals while Madison Garberding also tallied a score in the victory. Garberding, Ashley Larson and Kessa Mara each had a pair of assists in the win.
A key for Willmar was being able to find ways to score on second-chance opportunities when Northern Lakes goaltender Kate Stephens left rebounds out in front of the net.
"We've been trying to grind those out all year and the last few week, they've really taken it to heart," Setrum said. "That's the toughest play for a goalie is taking care of the rebounds."
For their part, the Cardinals' defense never let the Lightning have those second-chance opportunities, making their opponent shoot from a distance. Backing up a strong defensive effort from the blue liners, Willmar goalie Savana Knutson got the shutout with 24 saves.
"They did a good job of forcing the puck wide, (making them) take bad-angle shots and then helping clear out the front," Setrum said. "There weren't a lot of rebound shots. Savana is gonna stop the first one, we just have to help her clear out the second."
The Cardinals will now head to second-seeded Alexandria for a 7 p.m. section semifinal game on Tuesday. Alexandria advanced with a 19-0 victory over Morris/Benson Area on Saturday.
"We need to match their intensity. They'll come out fast and they'll match our speed," Setrum said. "It'll be a different game since this one was more of a grind-it-out against the boards game and up there, it's going to be more speed."
Northern Lakes 0
NL 0 0 0 - 0
Willmar 3 2 3 - 8
FIRST PERIOD - W: Mya Monson (Ashley Larson, Bailey Olson) 1:18 ... W: Serena Monson (Madison Garberding) 7:41 ... W: B Olson 13:01 sh
SECOND PERIOD - W: B Olson (Garberding, Kessa Mara) 4:16 ... W: B Olson (Jaidon Bredesen) 9:28
THIRD PERIOD - W: M Monson (Larson, Sydney Olson) 0:46 ... W: Garberding (Mara, S Monson) 2:45 ... W: S Monson (Tanna Christensen) 7:17
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS - NL: Kate Stephens 22/30 ... Willmar: Savana Knutson 24/24
Mathew Tolifson, Will Breuer and Brady Loge scored goals for Morris/Benson Area in a loss to Bagley/Fosston on Saturday.
Bagley/Fosston 1 3 2 - 6
MBA 1 1 1 - 3
FIRST PERIOD - B: Griffin Brovold 4:54 ... M: Mathew Tolifson (Kolby Goff, Tyler Buss) 7:30
SECOND PERIOD - B: Jacy Benson (Brovold) 0:38 ... M: Will Breuer (Brady Loge) 4:16 ... B: Alex Rolfson (Trey Netland, Benjamin Gerbracht) 7:00 ... B: Tanner Levin (Parker Boe, Adam Olson) 9:43
THIRD PERIOD - B: Adam Olson (Brovold, Rolfson) 3:03 ... B: Brovold 9:53 ... M: Loge (Brady DeHaan) 16:05
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS - Bagley/Fosston: Brycen Olson 26/29 ... Morris/Benson Area: Brady Backman 25/31
Alexandria defeated the Morris/Benson Area Storm in a Section 6A playoff game on Saturday at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria
MBA 0 0 0 - 0
Alexandria 5 7 7 - 19
FIRST PERIOD - A: Hanley Block (Mayson Toft, McKenna Ellingson) 9:05 ... A: Alexis Heckert 12:20 ... A: Block (Olivia Kopp, Kaci Trosvig) 13:20 ... A: Meg Shercliffe (Kopp, Trosvig) 15:24 pp ... A: Trosvig (Block, Riley Nyberg) 16:15
SECOND PERIOD - A: Hadlee Hansen (Shercliffe, Kopp) 8:00 ... A: Block (Ellingson, Trosvig) 8:07 ... A: Toft (Trosvig, Ali Castle) 10:22 pp ... A: Block (Shercliffe) 11:32 ... A: Shercliffe (Hansen) 14:48 ... A: Erin O'Kane (Anna Doherty) 15:30 ... A: Ellingson (Trosvig) 15:57
THIRD PERIOD - A: Castle (Doherty) 1:44 ... A: Trosvig (Ellingson) 3:32 ... A: Ellingson (Block, Trosvig) 4:15 ... A: Doherty (Alexis Heckert, Castle) 10:30 ... A: Trosvig (Ellingson) 12:21 ... A: Toft (Makenna Aure, Shercliffe) 14:30 ... A: Aure (Shercliffe) 16:00
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS - Morris/Benson Area: Leah Thompson 56/75 ... Alexandria: Hailee Bailey 3/3