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Girls' Hockey: Raptors rally past Park

East Ridge players celebrate after a Fiona Claugherty goal ties the section playoff game 1-1 in the first period. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 4
Park's Tina Press battles for possession in the offensive zone during Wednesday's section playoff game against East Ridge. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 4
East Ridge's Hannah Groch skates into the offensive zone during Wednesday's section playoff game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)3 / 4
Alyssa Wallace takes a shot on goal during Wednesday's section playoff game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)4 / 4

Everything except for the first minute went East Ridge's way during Wednesday's Class 2A, Section 3 playoff matchup with Park at Bielenberg Ice Arena.

Tina Press scored less than a minute into the game to give the Wolfpack an early 1-0 lead. But East Ridge rallied for five unanswered goals, including three by Fiona Claugherty, in a 5-1 section quarterfinals victory.

The second period is where the Raptors made their move by scoring four goals to break free from a 1-1 tie.

"I thought during the second period we moved the puck a lot better," Siobhan Claugherty said. "We were seeing each other. Our heads were up. We were working harder."

Fiona got East Ridge's offense going by deflecting teammate Anne Larsen's shot into the back of the net for a 1-1 tie. She followed that by scoring the first two goals of the second period to finish off her first career hat trick.

"It was really fun to put my team up," Fiona said about her three goals. "We just started going harder and harder."

Fiona's sister Siobhan was on the ice to assist on her two goals in the second period. The two sisters have not always played on the same line this season, but on Wednesday their connection paid off.

"I just always know where my sister is, where she's going to be," Siobhan said. "Whenever my head is up, I always see her, and I dish it off."

Hannah Groch and Katie Flynn each scored to finish off the four-goal second period for East Ridge.

The Wolfpack felt good about how the game started after Press' goal put them ahead 1-0. They kept the game tied 1-1 after the first intermission before the East Ridge offense began to click.

"After the first goal, we got it in our minds that, 'We've got this, we've got this,'" senior Hailey Nadeau-Robinson said about what changed for the Wolfpack in the second period. "They came out stronger, and we didn't stay with them."

While Wednesday's section loss was the end of the careers of Park's seniors, the team's roster is dominated by underclassmen who should be back next season. This year's team included eight juniors and seven freshmen.

"These girls at practice, they work hard," Robinson said about the team's underclassmen. "They bust their butts at practice to get better every day. They're going to be a good group of kids when they get older."

East Ridge will advance to the section semifinals to face Eagan at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights. Eagan defeated Hastings 8-0 Wednesday in the section quarterfinals.

The Raptors plan to bring the same attack Saturday that they used to pull ahead in Wednesday's 5-1 victory.

"We just need to keep our heads up and work as a team," Fiona said. "Put shots on the net and keep going as a group."