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Woodbury girls hockey: Royals fall to top-seeded Burnsville

Earning a number eight seed usually means playing every game on the road in a single-game playoff setting.

Fortunately for the Woodbury Royals, their section has nine seeds. Five different Royals players scored goals at they beat No. 9 seed Rosemount 5-3 in the Section 3AA Tournament on Monday, Feb. 3.

Participating in the first round game for Section 3AA has been the norm for the Royals in recent years. They have had tough losses in those games, each by a goal in the past two years. That includes a 5-4 loss to the Irish last year.

Royals seniors decided to return the favor and earn their first postseason win since 2011. Seniors Amanda McAlpine and Sara Wahlin scored two of their team’s five goals.

Wahlin’s goal at 8:41 in the second period put the Royals up 4-0, and it came only seconds after Kayla Falconer’s goal at 8:09. Sarah Gustafson and Cassy Morris each assisted on Wahlin’s goal. Shannon Motzko and McAlpine assisted on Taplin’s score.

“The girls were really excited to build up a solid lead and continued to play hard even after building up the 5-1 lead,” Royals coach Chris Lepper said.

Motzko put the Royals up 5-1 at 14:22 in the second period after the Irish scored their first goal at 11:29. Falconer and Livia Twohig both assisted on Motzko’s goal.

Kaelan Geisser stopped 43 shots in goal for the Royals and had a .915 save percentage. She had to stop 19 in the third alone as the Irish battled for their season.

Lepper said, “you could feel the anxiety building as they crept closer on the bench.”

The Irish mustered three goals in the final period, cutting the Royals lead to 5-4 with seven seconds remaining. The Royals held on for the win in the waning seconds amidst a flurry of pressure from the Irish.

“Rosemount put the puck on net, and there was a mad scramble as our goalie tried to cover,” Lepper said. “The puck just slipped by, but there was only two seconds left on the clock, and there was just not enough time left for Rosemount to try to get the tying score.”

Beating the Irish gave the Royals confidence going into Burnsville to face the No. 1-seeded Blaze. Apparently, the Blaze heeded the warning and took the lead on a goal eight seconds into the game.

The Royals ultimately fell 4-0 at the Burnsville Ice Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 5, but they fought throughout the game. Geisser and the defense worked to keep their team in the game, allowing only one more goal in the first period.

In enduring 18 shots by the Blaze in the second period, the Royals managed to only give up one more goal. Unfortunately for the Royals, they only mustered 19 shots and went 0-5 on the power play.

“We had many chances to score but just could not capitalize on them,” Lepper said.

A goal by the Blaze in the final four minutes of the third period sealed their 4-0 win. The Royals gave up 43 shots, but they went 6-6 on the penalty kill.

“I am very proud of what they did,” Lepper said.

Geisser had 39 saves and a .907 save percentage in her final varsity game. She had a 7-18-1 record overall in net and posted an .896 save percentage.

—Matthew Davis