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Section girls hockey: River Lakes Stars are headed back to state

River Lakes upends top-seeded Fergus Falls 3-1 in the Section 6A final. The second-seeded Stars play Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul against an opponent to be determined.

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Hockey
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ALEXANDRIA — The River Lakes girls hockey team has earned a return trip to the state tournament.

The Stars did it the hard way, beating top-seeded and state-ranked Fergus Falls 3-1 in the Section 6A championship match Saturday night at the Runestone Community Center.

River Lakes (16-12) found out Sunday that it plays top-seeded Warroad (23-3-1) in the state Class A tournament at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

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

The top five teams are seeded by participating coaches on-line. The three teams not in the top five are randomly selected opponents. That's what happened to River Lakes.

Other first-round games include Mankato East (21-5) vs. No. 2 Orono (24-3) at 11 a.m., followed by Albert Lea (14-10-1) vs. No. 3 Proctor/Hermantown (19-7-1) at 1 p.m.. The final game Wednesday is No. 5 Luverne (23-3) vs. No. 4 South St. Paul (15-10-2) at 8 p.m.

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The semifinals are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday and the championship final is 4 p.m. Saturday.

Fergus Falls, ranked seventh in Class A, beat River Lakes twice during the Central Lakes Conference season. The Otters won 1-0 Nov. 30 in Paynesville and 5-1 Dec. 21 in Fergus Falls.

Second-seeded River Lakes won the 6A title last year to earn its first state berth in the co-op’s history. The Stars are made up of athletes from Rocori, Albany, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, New London-Spicer and Paynesville.

The game was rescheduled from Friday because of blizzard-like conditions in Alexandria and Fergus Falls.

River Lakes got two goals from Sophia Hess. The forward opened the scoring at 6:24 of the first period to score unassisted. That score held until the third period.

Kianna Roeske found the net for the Stars’ second goal at 1:25, getting an assist from Jordyn Bebus.

Hess then sealed the deal with a shorthanded goal from Hess at 9:56.

Fergus Falls’ Piper Andrews scored unassisted on the power play right away at 10:04. But that’s as close as the Otters would get.

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Kaydence Roeske stopped 27 of 28 shots to earn the win in goal.

To get to state last season, River Lakes beat Willmar 3-2 in the final after knocking off Fergus Falls 4-1 in the semifinals. The Stars then lost 4-1 to Gentry Academy in the first round of the state tournament at the X.

River Lakes 3, Fergus Falls 1

River Lakes (16-12)            1     0     2 — 3
Fergus Falls (19-6-2)           0     0     1 — 1
FIRST PERIOD –  (1) RL: Sophia Hess (unassisted), 6:24.
SECOND PERIOD – No scoring. 
THIRD PERIOD –(2) RL: Kianna Roeske (Jordyn Bebus) 1:25 …  (3) RL: Hess (unassisted) 9:56, SH … (4) FF: Piper Andrews (unassisted) 10:04, PP.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – River Lakes: Kaydence Roeske 27/28 … Fergus Falls: Ana Jyrkas 19/22

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