Hopkins/St. Louis Park's Mary Gleason slides a pass from the corner on a scoring play against Benilde-St. Margaret's Thursday night. Gleason had a goal and two assists in the Royals' 3-2 victory over the Red Knights. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
After leading for much of Thursday’s game against Benilde-St. Margaret's, Hopkins/St. Louis Park found itself on its heels for much of the third period.
The Red Knights had rallied to tie the game earlier in the period and were pushing for that all-important third goal.
But with 5 seconds remaining, the tide turned in dramatic fashion when Royals junior winger Mary Gleason snuck a puck in past a crowd of players and into the goal to clinch a 3-2 victory.
It’s the second time this season Hopkins/St. Louis Park has defeated its west-metro rival. The win not only helps the Royals when it comes to seeding in Class 2, Section 6, but also boosts the confidence of a group that has competed against some of the state’s best teams this season.
Hopkins/St. Louis Park (11-8, 0-4) showed its self-assurance early in Thursday's game, putting its collective the foot on the gas pedal and racing out to the lead.
Senior defender Amanda Olsen patiently waited in front of the net before pouncing on her first opportunity and giving the Royals a 1-0 lead.
While only a one-goal advantage, the deficit felt much larger for the Red Knights (5-13-1, 2-1) as they headed into the first intermission.
“I told the girls after the first [period] that it just looked like we weren’t having any fun,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Shjon Podein said. “We were gripping the sticks way too tight. It got better for us in the second and [it] kept going into the third.”
Despite the improvements, Benilde-St. Margaret’s fell behind 2-0 early in the third period when Hopkins/St. Louis Park senior center Kylie Hanley scored on a backhand attempt. It was her team-high 28th goal of the season and 99th at the varsity level.
That's when things started to sputter for the Royals and momentum tipped the Red Knights' way.
Senior forward Mandy Nylander cashed in with her net-front presence and got Benilde-St. Margaret's on the scoreboard. The Red Knights' strong offensive effort continued paying off minutes later, when junior forward Kate Hancuch scored to tie the game.
Despite facing the renewed Red Knights' attack, Royals senior goaltender Emily Bolen held firm after Hancuch’s goal and kept the game even.
“They were being really aggressive,” Bolen said. “Once they hit that red line, you had to be ready for them.”
It looked as though the game was headed to overtime until Gleason struck, scoring a goal that left the Benilde-St. Margaret’s bench in a state of frustration and resulted in Red Knights coaches contenting the puck was stopped by freshman goalie Carly Greene.
An unlikely hero no more, Gleason finished the night having a hand in all the Royals' scoring, adding assists on the first two goals.
“She’s been a very good player that’s showed a lot of potential,” Hopkins/St. Louis Park coach Chris Erickson said. “She has that sneaking shot and does the little things that benefit everyone on the ice.”
It’s the second time this season the Royals have defeated the Red Knights. Hopkins/St. Louis Park won by the same score on Nov. 21.
Though these foes aren’t in the same conference, they reside in the same section, and this victory could prove crucial for postseason seeding. With Section 6 containing heavyweights Blake and Edina, the No. 1- and No. 2- are ranked teams in the Class 2A coaches’ poll and likely top two seeds in the playoffs, Tuesday's victory could put Hopkins/St. Louis Park in position to secure one of the other top seeds and a home playoff game. Those placements will be based upon criteria such as wins over section opponents.
The Royals especially needed this win, the program's 10th of the season, given it plays in the Lake Conference, which features four teams ranked in the Class 2A top 20.
“Wins like this help us when it comes to being confident,” Erickson said. “When you play in the Lake Conference, it’s nice to sneak in a game like this and come away with a win.”
For Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Thursday’s loss difficult. Players and coaches appeared visibly frustrated that Gleason’s goal was upheld, and they left wondering what could have been.
“It’s one of those things where you give everything you can, but a bounce doesn’t go your way,” Podein said. “We just have to keep getting better and come back tomorrow.”
Hopkins/St. Louis Park senior Kylie Hanley scores early in the third period, her 99th varsity goal, helping the Royals defeat Benilde-St. Margaret's on Thursday night. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Junior winger Mary Gleason's goal with 5 seconds remaining was the difference as Hopkins/St. Louis defeated Class 2, Section 6 rival Benilde-St. Margaret’s 3-2 on Thursday at the St. Louis Park Rec Center.
Gleason's game-winner came when she scooted a loose puck past Red Knights freshman goaltender Carly Greene.
Gleason finished the night with three points, including assists on her team’s other two goals.
Senior defenseman Amanda Olson got things going for Hopkins/St. Louis P ark (11-8, 0-4) when she knocked in a puck right in front of the net late in the opening period. It was her 17th point of the season, which is second most on the team.
In the third period, senior center Kylie Hanley made a mark on the game. She tallied her team-leading 28th goal of the season when she scored on the backhand to make it 2-0. It was her 99th varsity goal.
The Red Knights (5-13- 1, 2-1) got back in the game with two goals shortly after Hanley’s tally.
Senior forward Mandy Nylander slid the puck past Hopkins/St. Louis Park senior goaltender Emily Bolen to put Benilde-St. Margaret's on the scoreboard. Minutes later, a goal from junior forward Kate Hancuch tied the game at 2.
Greene finished the night with 24 saves while Bolen had 17.
Benilde-St. Margaret's freshman Olivia Haag looks for a shot against Hopkins/St. Louis Park. The Red Knights fell to the Royals 3-2. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
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