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Royal Raptors win again as sectionals near

Defender Sam Greeley scored both South Washington County goals as the Royal Raptors girls hockey team defeated Totino-Grace, 2-1, on Tuesday night at the Bielenberg Sports Center. The win kept hopes of a .500 season alive for the Woodbury/East Ridge cooperative squad. Staff Photo by Tom Carothers.

A second-consecutive 2-1 victory pulled the South Washington County girls hockey team to within a single game of breaking even on the 2009-10 regular season with one matchup to go before the sectional playoffs begin as the Royal Raptors topped Totino-Grace on Tuesday night at the Bielenberg Sports Center.

Junior defender Sam Greeley scored both SWC goals as the Woodbury/East Ridge conglomerate rallied from a brief 1-0 deficit after the visiting Eagles scored a power-play tally just 29 seconds into the second period.

Senior goaltender Jessica Taplin, who also back-stopped a 2-1 win over Hastings last Friday made 20 saves as the Royal Raptors felled Totino, the No. 9-ranked team in Class A.

South Washington County improved to 9-10-5 overall, with only a matchup at Cretin-Derham Hall this coming Saturday night remaining between the District 833 girls and a .500 record in time for the playoffs.

The Raiders inhabit the bottom rung of the Suburban East Conference standings with two league wins to the Royal Raptors three circuit victories, yet Cretin does pose a formidable challenge, having tied SWC in an earlier season meeting en route to a 8-13-3 mark.

Seedings for the upcoming Section 3AA playoffs will be determined in a meeting on Sunday, with post-season set to begin the next night with a play-in game scheduled between the eighth and ninth seeds.

The Royal Raptors will most likely commence their playoff run on Feb. 10 and are in the mix of teams -- including Eastview (10-2-2), Park (9-12-2) and Hastings (14-7-3) -- that could claim the No. 4 seed and first-round home game.

While Hastings would appear a favorite based on overall record, the Royal Raptors were undefeated against the Raiders this season with one win and one tie. Park and SWC split their season series, yet the Wolfpack's victory (4-1) was more definitive than SWC's (2-1).

Burnsville (16-7-1), Eagan (15-6-2) and Rosemount (14-8-2) appear set to inherit the top three spots in 3AA.