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State girls hockey: Warriors' special teams hurt Willmar Cardinals

No. 2 Warroad's three power-play goals prove to be the difference in 7-4 Class A quarterfinal victory

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Will head girls hockey coach Eric Setrum yells out to his players during a break in the action in Wednesday's Class A state quarterfinal game against Warroad at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

ST. PAUL — Entering the Class A tournament as the highest-scoring team in the state, Warroad has been particularly dangerous on the power play.

Converting at approximately a 30 percent clip during the regular season and Section 8A tournament, the Warriors were especially lethal during their state quarterfinal victory over Willmar.

Advancing to its fifth consecutive state semifinal, Warroad went 3-for-3 on special teams en route to a 7-4 triumph Wednesday from the Xcel Energy Center.

“They really move the puck well,” Cardinals head coach Eric Setrum said of the Warriors. “They’re really disciplined. They did a good job of pulling our forwards high and getting the puck behind us on the backside. They are obviously a high-scoring team, so they know how to move the puck. Once they get it, they know what to do with it.

“They buried it pretty good.”

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RELATED: WCT Sports Live — Minn. State Girls Hockey Tournament coverage
The Warriors play at 11 a.m. Friday in the state semifinals to take on Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, which defeated Hutchinson 2-0 in its quarterfinal.

The Cardinals and Tigers play in a consolation semifinal at 10 a.m. Thursday from the TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center in St. Paul. Willmar defeated Hutchinson 4-3 in overtime on Nov. 26.

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Led by goal scorer Tanna Christensen, the Willmar girls hockey team celebrates a goal in the second period of Wednesday's Class A state quarterfinal game against Warroad at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

With two goals in the final two minutes of the first period, the Warriors were up 2-0 and had a 5-on-4 advantage after Cardinals junior defender Audrey Swart was whistled for slashing 1 minute, 23 seconds into second. Following a pair of saves from senior goaltender Bryton Carlson, Warroad went up 3-0 after junior forward Geno Hendrickson scored her second goal of the game. She stuffed home a rebound off a slap shot from junior defender Karlie Meeker

Nearly four minutes later, Hendrickson completed her hat trick before Hannah Corneliusen, the top-scorer in the state during the regular season, added a goal at the 10:41 mark of the second.

Each goal came on the power play.

“I think when we scored on those power plays, they were all really late in the two minutes,” Warroad head coach David Marvin said. “The kids I have on that don’t panic and they stick with it and they’ve done that for me all year. ... Kiddos to them, they worked really hard at that and they share the puck a lot.”

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Bryton Carlson and the rest of the Willmar girls hockey team line up for pre-game intros before Wednesday's Class A state quarterfinal game against Warroad at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Prior to the the third Hendrickson goal, Willmar began to show life.

Going more than 10 minutes between the first and second periods without a shot on goal, the Cardinals got on the board when senior forward Mya Monson skated by a Warroad defender and fired a wrist shot on goal. Skating in from the back side, junior forward Ashley Larson smashed in the rebound at the 3:53 mark. Sixty-one seconds later off a faceoff in the offensive zone, junior defender Tanna Christensen made it 3-2 after floating a knuckler from near the point and past sophomore goaltender Kendra Nordick.

In Willmar’s double-overtime win in the Section 6A semifinal against Northern Lakes eight days earlier, Christensen scored the game-winner on a similar shot.

“It was the same goal. I’ve had a lot like that, which is kind of nice,” Christensen said. “It's nice to get it right off the faceoff like that cause then their wing doesn’t have a chance to get up to me. I have a straight line (to the net), the goalie is not ready for that and it just popped right over her shoulder.”

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Willmar head girls hockey coach Eric Setrum talks to his players during a timeout in the second period of Wednesday's Class A state quarterfinal game against Warroad at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

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Marvin immediately called a timeout to regroup and regain momentum.

“We needed to just work as hard as we can, trust each other, be good teammates and not get down on ourselves,” Hendrickson remarked on the message in the huddle. “We kind of figured we’d be fine as long as we do all the right things.”

Out-shooting the Cardinals 31-15 through two periods, Warroad (22-4-2) stretched it out to a 6-2 lead late in the second after a score from freshman forward Talya Hendrickson.

Willmar didn’t go down quietly. After chasing down a loose puck in the offensive zone, junior forward Madison Garberding found junior forward Bailey Olson alone in front to make it 6-3. Then, 3:17 into the third, Monson applied more pressure as her rebound made it a two-goal deficit at 6-4. However, Corneliusen put the game away with her second score with 7:35 remaining.

“I’m so proud of these girls,” Setrum said. “They kept fighting, believing, working for each other.”

Class A state girls hockey: Willmar Cardinals vs. Warroad Warriors In its first state trip in 17 years, unseeded Willmar took on No. 2 Warroad on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020

Under attack the majority of the gamel, Carlson finished with 33 saves. Nordick stopped 19 shots to capture her 12th victory of the season.

Making their first appearance at state in 17 years, the Cardinals’ time at the X is done. But the girls cherished their time on the ice.

“It was awesome,” said Garberding, who finished with two assists. “It didn’t seem as loud as I thought it would. That’s probably because I have clogged ears, but it was really fun. I think our team did a really good job of just soaking it all in and not getting nervous and not freaking out when we got out there.

“It’s a great experience for us and I’m happy for us.”

Christensen added, “It was definitely a great experience to be on an ice like that. The ice is really bright; that’s new to us. Just like Garbs said, we were super excited in the beginning, but we all focused in and we just had to play our game.”

Warroad 7,
Willmar 4

Willmar 0 3 1 — 4
Warroad 2 4 1 — 7
FIRST PERIOD – (1) Wa: Geno Hendrickson (Sydney Phaneuf, Cal Lindquist), 15:00 ... (2) Wa: Julianna Teske (Karlie Meeker), 16:16
SECOND PERIOD – (3) Wa: G. Hendrickson (Hannah Corneliusen, Meeker), 2:36, PP ... (4) Wi: Ashley Larson (Mya Monson), 3:53 ... (5) Wi: Tanna Christensen (Chloe Lownsbury), 4:54 ... (6) Wa: G. Hendrickson (Tayla Hendrickson, Phaneuf), 6:28, PP ... (7) Wa: Corneliusen (G. Hendrickson, T. Hendrickson), 10:41, PP ... (8) Wa: T. Hendrickson (Phaneuf), 13:32 ... (9) Wi: Bailey Olson (Madison Garberding), 16:25
THIRD PERIOD – (10) Wi: Mya Monson (Garberding), 3:17 ... (11) Wa: Corneliusen (Abbey Hardwick), 9:25
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Willmar: Bryton Carlson 33/40 … Warroad: Kendra Nordick 19/23

WCT Sports Live — Minn. State Girls Hockey Tournament coverage

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Willmar's Tanna Christensen (bottom) gets tangled up with Warroad's Hannah Corneliusen (23) in front of the net during the second period of Wednesday's Class A state quarterfinal game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

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Willmar's Tanna Christensen (bottom) gets tangled up with Warroad's Hannah Corneliusen (23) in front of the net during the second period of Wednesday's Class A state quarterfinal game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

022020.S.FNS.WILLMARWARROAD Ghky traffic.jpg
Willmar's Tanna Christensen (bottom) gets tangled up with Warroad's Hannah Corneliusen (23) in front of the net during the second period of Wednesday's Class A state quarterfinal game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

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