The game was tied through two periods, with plenty of scoring chances and power plays each way. Then Maple Grove sophomore Lauren Stenslie scored off a rebound in front 2 minutes, 24 seconds into the third for the lead.
“Puck luck,” Maple Grove coach Amber Hegland said. “Fortunately for us, in the third period, one went in.”
Stenslie’s game-winner helped the Crimson defeat Centennial 4-1 in the Class 2A, Section 5 championship game Friday at Roseville Ice Arena. Before the play, she said her coach was saying “go to the net, go to the net.’’
“Her biggest strength is just that she goes hard,” Hegland said. “She puts herself in a position to track down rebounds.”
Sophomore Lauren Stenslie put Maple Grove up 2-1 just 2 minutes, 34 seconds into the third period against Centennial.
It was the first of her two goals and proved to be the game-winner as the Crimson defeated the Cougars 4-1 to win the Class 2A, Section 5 championship Friday at Roseville Ice Arena.
Stenslie’s winner came off a third rebound chance for her team after she pounced on the loose puck in front. Senior co-captain Mannon McMahon created the play with an initial wrap-around attempt.
Sophomore Tristana Tatur and Stenslie added goals 14 seconds apart with under a minute left in regulation to provide the final margin of victory.
Centennial struck first with junior Allison Pitlick’s 21st goal of the season with 11:33 to play in the second period. She had plenty of chances earlier in the game, too. The Cougars were all over the Crimson zone, and Centennial senior Maija Almich had a solid scoring chance of her own just before the goal.
Pitlick’s high blast clanged off the goal post on the way in, giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
After that, the Cougars held momentum with a couple power plays. But with 5:18 left in the period, Crimson junior Chloe Corbin took the puck into the zone on a delayed penalty, went wide, then scored a shot from the right side to tie the game 1-1 with a shorthanded tally, her ninth goal of the season.
The goal and another late power play gave the Crimson some momentum until the end of the period, but the score was still knotted at 1-1.
The victory gave the No. 8-ranked Crimson (19-7-1) a season sweep over the Cougars (13-13-2), having defeated them 3-0 and 3-2 during the regular season. Maple Grove returns to the state tournament for a second time, with its other appearance ending with a runner-up finish to Eden Prairie in 2016.
Check back later for more on the game.