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Woodbury girls hockey: Tough stretch ahead after winless week for Royals

A solid 4-2 start to the season certainly showed promise for the Woodbury Royals girls hockey team.

However, they will have a challenge on their hands this week in taking on Suburban East Conference powers in Roseville and Mounds View after back-to-back losses. The Royals fell to rival East Ridge 9-2 on Nov. 26, and an overtime goal by Tartan dropped the Royals to 4-4 overall in a 4-3 overtime loss.

Against East Ridge, Kim Taplin tied the game 1-1 in the first period for the Royals with a goal on assists from Kayla Falconer and Livia Twohig. The Raptors responded with three unanswered goals for a 4-1 lead.

Amanda McAlpine pulled the Royals within two with a goal during the second period on an assist from Taplin. The Royals never put the puck in the net again as the Raptors scored another five goals and won 9-2. Royals goalie Kaelan Geisser stopped 25 shots and had her lowest save percentage of the season.

Against Tartan, the Royals rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take the game to overtime. Ellie Tabaka of the Titans broke the 3-3 tie in the extra period with a goal at the 7:26 mark.

Libby Majerle scored her first of two goals to give the Royals a 1-0 lead right away in the first period. Twohig assist on the goal, which the Titans responded to rapidly with three unanswered goals in a seven-minute span.

Majerle scored her second goal on a power play to put the Royals within a goal, 3-2, during the second period. Amy Haslerud found Majerle for the score.

Sara Wahlin added a second power play goal by the Royals in the period to tie 3-3 on an assist by Sarah Gustafson. The power play efforts evaporated in the extra frame on the scoreboard and Geisser took the loss in net.

Before last week, Yogi Berra’s saying, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” could’ve worked as a slogan for the Royals.

Woodbury rallied in two games for a pair of one-goal wins during the past week to improve their record to 4-2 overall through Nov. 25. They rallied from 3-1 deficits both times to beat the Saint Paul Blades 5-4 and the Park of Cottage Grove Wolfpack 4-3.

“We’re battling right to the final horn, and that’s extremely encouraging,” Lepper said.

Making changes to the game plan after the first period made a difference for the Royals in those comebacks. They outscored their opponents 8-5 in the final two periods of those games.

“They’re really doing well with any system changes we’ve had to make based on what our opponents are running and we feel will give the better opportunity to win,” Lepper said.

Against the Blades (1-3-1, 0-0 Tri-Metro) on Thursday, Nov. 21,

Wahlin posted a hat trick in the 5-4 win. She started the scoring on a power play at 5:58 into the game on assists from Twohig and junior forward Ashley Krinke for a 1-0 lead.

“She’s playing on a line that really compliments each other very well,” Lepper said.

Her second goal came after three unanswered power play goals by the Blades on Thursday, Nov. 21. Wahlin scored on a power play, assisted by junior defender Skye Shock, and it cut the lead to 3-2. Wahlin scored her near the end of the period unassisted to tie the game 3-3.

“When she gets her opportunities to bury the puck, she buries the puck,” Lepper said.

Wahlin leads the team in scoring through Monday with nine points.

Junior forward Kayla Falconer has six points through that span, including two goals in the third period of the Blades game. Those goals broke the 3-3 tie and allowed the Royals to build a 5-3 lead.

Twohig and junior forward Cassy Morris assisted on those goals.

Falconer had the tying goal in the third period against the Wolfpack (0-5, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday, Nov. 23. She scored on a power play, assisted by Morris and McAlpine.

“The power play has been working well for us and is scoring at opportune times,” Lepper said.

Royals freshman forward Shannon Motzko scored her first varsity goal on the assist from Twohig. The goal cut the Wolfpack 2-0 to a goal, 2-1 early in the second period.

“She went to the net extremely hard,” Leppers said of Motzko. “Livia Twohig saw her and made a great pass across, and Shannon put it in on the back end.”

Alyssa Wickenhouser put the Wolfpack back up by two goals, 3-1, late in the second. Morris pulled the Royals within a goal again on an assist from Wahlin just minutes later.

Those two connected again in the third period with Wahlin scoring the game-winning goal with an assist from Morris. Senior goalie Kaelan

Geisser finished with 25 saves.

“We are excited that the team is winning but know that we have a ways to go before we are clicking on all cylinders,” Lepper said.

The Royals (4-4, 0-1 SEC) play at Roseville on Thursday, and they host Mounds View on Saturday. Following those two games, the Royals face a Hastings team that is looking for their first conference win when the two face off on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

—Matthew Davis