In the third overtime, Anna Doherty scored the game-winning goal with 2:51 left to send the No. 3 seeded Alexandria Cardinals to the section championship with a 2-1 win over the No. 2 seeded Brainerd-Little Falls Warriors.
“You don’t even have words for it,” Alexandria head coach Molly Arola said. “Kudos to Brainerd, oh my goodness, unbelievable team and an unbelievable game. It’s tough to see anyone go home after that type of game.”
The game-winner was assisted by Hanley Block and Peyton Boesl.
Alexandria’s Ella Westlund fights Brainerd players for the puck Thursday, March 18, at the Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Both goalies kept the game close as Alex’s Jordan O’Kane recorded 41 saves and BLF’s Breya Sawyer tallied 36.
Arola wanted her team to keep believing they could win in between overtime frames
“It was just about staying calm and collected and just continuing to believe in ourselves,” she said. “It was just about keeping it simple and staying grounded.”
The Warriors were one second away from advancing to the section finals in regular time when Block sent the game into overtime with a goal as time expired for the Cardinals.
Anna Doherty and Lauren Maras assisted on Block’s dramatic game-tyer.
“We talked about in the timeout how it was going to be a dirty goal and a scramble,” Arola said. “We just had to keep fighting until the end and that’s what we did.”
The Warriors had a slim 42-38 shot advantage as the two teams proved how evenly matched they were and played to a 1-1 tie a week prior.
Warriors head coach Jack Freeman did not have a ton of words for his team after the heartbreaking defeat.
“It’s tough to put that feeling into words,” he said. “It’s one you are going to think about for a long, long time. I’m proud of the heart the girls showed all year.”
Macy Peterson scored the game’s first goal right at the start of the third period assisted by Molly Pohlkamp and Taylor Larson.
“Offense was hard to come by and that’s a credit to the way both teams played and the commitment and heart both teams played with,” Freeman said. “No one wanted to lose that battle and nothing came easy for either team.”
Alexandria’s MaKenna Aure skates with the puck against Brainerd Thursday, March 18, at the Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Eleven of O’Kane’s saves came in the second period and four of them on a power play in the middle of the period.
“She was huge just as she has been all year long and especially in the second half of the season,” Arola said. “She’s our backbone and we needed her tonight. She came in clutch.”
BLF held a 19-6 shot advantage through two periods and the momentum on its side.
The Warriors pounded the offensive zone in the first half of the first period. Emma Booth just missed a goal on a feed from Taylor Larson.
Momentum switched as Riah Stroot was called for hooking late in the first, but the Warriors killed the penalty.
The Warriors held the first-period shot advantage 8-4 despite not finishing the period strong.
With one-day rest after playing over 90 minutes of hockey, the Cardinals will travel to Roseau Saturday, March 20. Alex is also riding a 11-game unbeaten streak.
“Hit the reset button and get refreshed as quickly as possible,” Arola said.
ALEXANDRIA 0 0 1 0 0 1 – 2
BRAINERD- LITTLE FALLS 0 0 1 0 0 0 – 1
SCORING- THIRD PERIOD- BLF- Macy peterson (Molly Pohlkamp, Taylor Larson) 3:12; Alexandria- Hanley Block (Anna Doherty, Lauren Maras) 16:59; 3OT- Alexandria- Alexandria- Doherty (Block, Peyton Boesl) 14:09; PENALTIES- Alexandria- 6 minutes on 3 infractions; BLF- 4 minutes on 2 infractions; GOALTENDING- Alexandria- Jordan O’Kane, W, 41 saves, 1 goal allowed; BLF- Breya Sawyer, L, 36 saves, 2 goals allowed