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Boys' Hockey: Third-period goals advance Royals to section semis

Spencer Nelson carries the puck near the blue line during Saturday's section game against Mounds View. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 3
Jim Heron skates inside the Mounds View offensive zone during Saturday's game. Heron scored Woodbury's first goal of the section playoff game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 3
Lucas Erickson carries the puck during Saturday's section playoff game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)3 / 3

The Woodbury boys' hockey team knew it was do or die time as it headed onto the ice for the third period of Saturday's section quarterfinals game against Mounds View.

The Mustangs held a 2-1 lead and had outshot the Royals 20-13 through two periods in the Class 2A, Section 4 matchup at Aldrich Arena. The Royals knew they needed to pick up their play if they wanted to keep their season alive.

Head coach Wes Bolin said the Royals shortened their bench in the third period and that helped them score twice in a 3-2 comeback victory.

"We played three throughout the first two periods," Bolin said about the Woodbury lines. "In the third period, it got a little shorter for us. I felt we needed to, to get it down. We got a couple of good matchups for ourselves and made some plays."

The scoring started four minutes into the third period when Lucas Erickson scored on a wrist shot to tie the game at 2-2. The game-winning goal came with just two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game when Ronnie Sweeny worked the puck down low in the Mounds View zone and took a shot. The puck rebounded off the Mounds View goalie onto the stick of an open Alec Wonsmos who delivered a wrist shot to the back of the net.

"All the credit to Ronnie Sweeny," Wonsmos said. "For sure. It was all his hard work."

Jim Heron scored the Royals' first goal at 7:46 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1. Colin Baird and Wyatt Thole were the goal scorers for Mounds View.

Sophomore goaltender Isaac Wuotila made 23 saves on 25 shots, including all five in the third period as Woodbury came back for the win. Bolin recognized the effort from the sophomore goaltender.

"He gave up two goals the first two periods and was solid down the stretch when he needed to be," Bolin said. "Those were big saves."

The Royals are now gearing up for a scheduled game Tuesday against Stillwater, the top-seeded team in the section bracket and the winner of the Suburban East Conference championship. The Ponies' offense has averaged more than five goals per game this season.

But the Royals on Saturday said they were setting up the game as an opportunity to pull off an upset.

"Play for each other," Wonsmos said about what the Royals need to do to have a chance. "Don't worry about anyone else, don't worry about the stands, don't worry about the crowd, the fans. Nothing. Just play for the guys sitting to your left and your right. And just come to play."