Conventional hockey wisdom frowns upon giving up goals within a period’s first or last minute. Grand Rapids/Greenway did both and it cost the Lightning an upset bid.
No. 2 seed Roseville scored twice during a 45-second span of the second and third periods and escaped with a 3-1 victory in Thursday’s first Class 2A girls’ hockey state quarterfinal game at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Lightning jumped to a 1-0 lead on Kaya Baker’s first-period goal.
Raiders’ senior defensemen Lee Stecklein tied the game with 28 seconds left in the second period. Junior forward Kate Flug scored just 17 seconds into the third period and her team never trailed again.
Stecklein’s goal was the only one of 16 Roseville shots on goal to get through in the second period.
“It was game-changer,” Stecklein said. “If we had ended that period without getting a goal, who knows what would have happened in the third period?”
Lightning senior forward Molly Illikainen said, “We had to get through one more minute to really get them on their heels.”
If Stecklein’s goal allowed the Raiders a collective exhale, Flug’s gave them reason to shout. She streaked in and flipped a puck over goaltender Sydney Helmbrecht, who kept the game close despite a 29-10 disadvantage in shots on goal. Flug later fired her 46th goal of the season into an empty net.
Grand Rapids/Greenway co-head coach Darin Illikainen called the nature of Roseville’s first two goals “back-breakers.”
The resilient Lightning vastly improved since a 7-0 loss to Roseville in November and he credited them Thursday for “battling for that second goal until the empty-netter.”
Kate Flug, Roseville
Flug put the Raiders on her back by scoring two of their three goals in the game. She kept the defense on their heals by contributing ten shots on goal.