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Girls hockey roundup: River Lakes heads back to the Section 6A final ... barely

Prep hockey report from west central Minnesota for Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. The Stars will play Fergus Falls for a state tournament berth on Friday after edging Northern Lakes 2-1 in overtime. Meanwhile, Willmar sees its season end with a 6-1 loss at top-seeded Fergus Falls in the 6A semifinals.

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River Lakes Stars eighth-grader Abby Storms battles for the puck with Northern Lakes' Jasmyn German on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2022 in Richmond.
Matthew Curry/ West Central Tribune

RICHMOND — It took nearly three full periods and a combined 64 shots on net before second-seed River Lakes’ ninth-grader Sophia Hess scored the first goal of the game against third-seed Northern Lakes in its Section 6A semifinal on Tuesday.

The Stars eventually took the win in overtime, 2-1, with a goal by senior captain Kianna Roeske. They play for the Section 6A championship against top-seeded Fergus Falls on Friday at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria. At stake is a berth in the state Class A tournament in St. Paul.

Read more prep tournament coverage here from the West Central Tribune.

The Stars won the Section 6A championship last season to make their first state tournament appearance.

“I’m in awe right now,” Roeske said. “I’m so grateful for this team. I’m grateful for our coaches, I’m grateful to be back in the section final.”

River Lakes head coach Alexis Klatt stated: “They played all the way through and didn’t give up on each other.

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“I don’t think it should have got to that point but we made it work with the bed we made and came out on top.”

In the battle of goalies, Northern Lakes junior Katherine Stephens saved 49 of 51 shots. River Lakes’ ninth-grader Kaydene Roeske saved 23 of 24.

“They had a very solid goaltender and she had a great game,” Klatt said. “There’s only so much that you can do about that except to keep hammering away and hope that one gets in.”

Both teams played determined to keep their seasons alive with solid defense, near goals and an increase in physicality occurring throughout each period.

River Lakes managed to have more puck control than the Lightning but were never able to connect with a goal.

“It was primarily rebounds; we didn’t really get our rebounds,” Hess said. “We were getting plenty of shots as the board shows, but the rebounds (were) really where it was.”

After two scoreless periods, and the third period coming to a close, the thought of overtime quickly became more and more of a reality.

Finally, after the Stars had out-shot the Lightning 42-21, Hess managed to score on a rebound off a shot by Roeske on the left corner on the 64th total shot of the night.

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“Kianna was coming over the top circle and I was like, ‘oh this might be my chance to get a rebound,’” Hess recalled. “Then it was just perfect.”

The Stars looked to have the game at hand as the final minute struck, but the Lightning managed to get the puck and dart down the ice.

With 36.6 seconds left, Northern Lakes junior forward Rose Aldridge managed to tie the game at 1-1, forcing overtime.

“My sister (Kaydene Roeske) is the goalie,” Kianna said. “So I was thinking, ‘gosh darn it Kaydene.’ But it wasn’t her fault. I know she takes a lot of the pressure for that. And I knew she wasn’t going to get down on herself because she never has. But it was obviously very frustrating and very nerve-racking.”

Kianna Roeske got the only penalty in overtime, a two-minute minor for cross-checking.

“I was frustrated (with the penalty call),” Roeske said. “It was like, ‘I’m a senior, this is not how I want my high school career to end.’

“As I sat in the box I took a deep breath and realized there was still a lot of game left. I trusted my teammates and they got the job done (and) killed off the power-play.”

Fresh out of the penalty box, Roeske thanked her teammates by scoring the game-winning goal at 4:21 to advance to the Section 6A championship.

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“I just skated hard and got a lucky shot on net,” Roeske said.

Despite the win, and the chance of returning to state in sight, Klatt says the team will be solely focused only on Friday.

“We’ve been there before but we’ve only had success to get (to state) once,” she said. “A lot of people have been talking about tradition. But you have to do things repeatedly to make it a tradition. So we still have a lot of statements to make. The girls have had a lot of work put in and they know that they’re not done yet.”

Girls Hockey

Section 6A

River Lakes 2, Northern Lakes 1 (OT)

Northern Lakes (15-11-1)          0     0     1     0 — 1
River Lakes (15-12)                   0     0     1     1 — 2
FIRST PERIOD –  No scoring.
SECOND PERIOD –  No scoring.
THIRD PERIOD – (1) RL: Sophia Hess (Kianna Roeske) 12:53 … (2) NL: Rose Aldridge (Jada Brodzinski), 16:24.
OVERTIME –  (3) RL: Kianna Roeske (unassisted), 4:21.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Northern Lakes: Katherine Stephens 49/51 … River Lakes: Kaydene Roeske 23/24.

Fergus Falls 6, Willmar 1

With a four-goal night from leading scorer Piper Andrews, top-seeded and eighth-ranked Fergus Falls ended fourth-seeded Willmar’s season in the Section 6A semifinals at Fergus Falls.

Andrews now has 32 goals along with 22 assists on the season. She put in a pair of goals in both the second and third periods. Maddie Halter and Hannah Johnson also put the puck in the net for Fergus Falls.

Willmar came into the game on a six-game win streak. The Otters won the previous two matchups: 4-2 on Dec. 16 in Willmar; and 4-2 on Feb. 3 in Fergus Falls.

The Cardinals conclude the 2021-22 season with a 14-13-0 record. Four seniors — Nina Dawson, Kessa Mara, Katie Hagen and Brynn Grieger — played in their final game.

Willmar (14-13)                    0     0     1 — 1
Fergus Falls (19-5-2)           1     2     3 — 6

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River Lakes senior Kianna Roeske helped the Stars return to the Section 6A championship with an overtime goal over Northern Lakes on Tuesday, 15, 2022 in Richmond.
Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

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Girls Hockey

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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