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Girls' Hockey: Third period goals lift Park past Woodbury

The Wolfpack celebrate after a goal by Alli Lentz gives them a lead in the third period. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 3
Mackenzie Husaby skates with the puck into the offensive zone Saturday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 3
Woodbury's Grace Swenson skates with the puck in the neutral zone during the second period Saturday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)3 / 3

Both the Woodbury and Park girls’ hockey teams faced off Saturday night in one last chance to gain some momentum heading into the section playoffs this week.

For two periods, the Royals looked like the team that would get the opportunity as it led 2-1 heading into the second intermission. But three goals in the third period, all from freshmen, helped Park seal a comeback victory.

A little extra effort proved to be the difference for the Wolfpack.

“I feel like we came out harder than the first two periods,” said freshman Mackenzie Husaby, one of Park’s three goal scorers Saturday.

Husaby, Maddy Bloedel and Alli Lentz accounted for all four of Park’s goals in the 4-2 Suburban East Conference victory.

For Woodbury, it was a stinging loss in an opportunity to pick up its first Suburban East Conference win of the season.

“It’s hard because our girls work extremely hard trying to get these wins,” head coach Chris Lepper said. “It just hurts.”

Woodbury built an early lead with goals by Shannon Motzko in the first period and Isabel Lappai in the second. But the Wolfpack erased the deficit with the three third-period goals.

Not helping the Royals was the fact that only 20 players were available on Saturday. Other players were absent due to other engagements or out due to injuries.

“We only had 17 skaters, so we were pretty shorthanded today,” Lepper said.

Park headed into Saturday’s game with two more wins in Suburban East Conference play than Woodbury. With the Royals still searching for their first SEC win, head coach Steve Morse said the Wolfpack were caught off guard by the strong effort from their district rivals.

“They come into a game like that with certain expectations,” Morse said. “When the game doesn’t meet their expectations, which is rarely will, they get in trouble. It took them two periods to shake that and go play hard hockey.”

While the Royals ended up falling 4-2, they still have an improved stretch of hockey to fall back on as the section playoffs start this week. Woodbury started the year with a 1-17 record before winning twice in its final seven games. Those last games also included close 1-0 losses to South St. Paul on Jan. 27 and 2-1 versus Stillwater Thursday. Woodbury wrapped up the regular season with a 3-22 record.

“The improvement in my mind is massive, but it’s not showing up in the wins and losses,” Lepper said. “That’s the frustrating thing for the girls, that’s the frustrating thing for the coaches.”

The Wolfpack wrapped up the regular season with an 8-15-2 record, including 3-12-1 in the SEC.

Park’s first round matchup in the Class 2A, Section 3 tournament will be just a short trip from home. The Wolfpack are set to face East Ridge at Bielenberg Arena on Wednesday.

After learning a hard lesson about not starting strong Saturday, the Wolfpack are aiming to put together a complete effort against district rival East Ridge.

“We’ve got to come out 100 percent right away, instead of letting it wait until the third period,” Bloedel said.

Woodbury will start the Class 2A, Section 4 tournament at Mounds View on Saturday.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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