Girls' Hockey: Mistakes bite Raptors in section finals loss
East Ridge felt good about the first two periods of play as its players stepped onto the ice in the Class 2A, Section 3 championship game Wednesday in Inver Grove Heights.
The Raptors led Eastview 1-0 after 34 minutes with Siobhan Claugherty scoring the game's only goal in the second period after she chased down a rebound from a Sidney Zavoral shot.
But the Lighting came back to strike twice in the third period, starting with a game-tying goal by Annie Luzum after 8-minutes and 42-seconds had passed in the third.
The Raptors continued to match the Eastview attack until the final few minutes of the third period. East Ridge failed to clear the zone in the final minute, and Molly Beckman made them pay by scoring the game-winning goal with just 19 seconds remaining.
"The whole game I felt like we outworked them, and the last three shifts I don't know if we ran out of gas, or if we were hoping to get to overtime, or whatever," head coach Tom Kulenkamp said. "But they took it to us at the end."
East Ridge led in shots on goal during every period, amassing a 38-32 total for the game. But Eastview goaltender Kaitlyn Pellicci held strong in making 37 saves to help the Lighting earn their third consecutive state tournament bid.
Wednesday gave the East Ridge players their first experiences of competing in a section finals game. Last year, Eastview defeated East Ridge 3-2 in overtime of the section semifinals.
"There were a lot of nerves going on," senior Maria Wallace said about playing in a section finals game. "We knew we had to play the best game we possibly could, but the outcome just didn't turn out like we wanted."
The Raptors knew they had some pieces coming back from last year's team. But many did not figure they would be playing in a rematch with Eastview for a spot at state.
"I knew we had a good team this year, so anything was possible," senior Alyssa Wallace said.
While five of the team's seniors will graduate this spring, a majority of the team's players will have the opportunity to return next year. The roster includes six juniors and seven sophomores who should return with some valuable experience.
"Five seniors total, so they will be hard to replace," Kulenkamp said. "We've got some good kids coming back, so we hope to be back next year."