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Willmar thwarts Prairie Centre's upset bid

Prairie Centre's Reece Ritter gains control of the puck off the face off with Willmar. Jake Schultz/Forum News Service

The Prairie Centre Blue Devils knew they had an uphill battle heading into their Section 6A quarterfinal girls hockey game with the Willmar Cardinals on Feb. 18. The Cardinals had already beat the Blue Devils twice during the season by matching 4-0 defeats.

The Blue Devils put a scare into the Cardinals, however, it was the Cardinals who held on for the 2-1 victory over the Blue Devils, advancing in the Section 6A playoffs. The Cardinals will now have the daunting task of facing the defending section champion, Alexandria. Alexandria defeated Willmar 4-0 during the regular season. Alexandria has won 10 of its last 11 games heading into the postseason.

Both Prairie Centre’s Mackenzie Och and Willmar’s Savana Knutson were up to the task in the first frame, but Willmar would strike first in the second period. Bailey Olson capitalized on the power play. Mya Monson and Sydney Olson had the helpers on the goal.

However, the Blue Devils answered. Shelby Otte found the back of the net when she beat Knutson, tying the game at one.

It wouldn’t stay tied for long, just two minutes and two seconds later, the Cardinals struck when Serena Monson picked up the eventual game-winning goal. Bailey Olson had the lone assist.

The Blue Devils came on strong in the third period, but it was Knuston who would keep them at bay. The Blue Devils outshot the host Cardinals 13-9 in the period, but could not get the equalizer.

Knutson finished the game with 23 saves on 24 shots, recording the win. Her counterpart, Och, was strong in net for the Blue Devils. Och finished the game with 30 saves on 32 shots.

The Blue Devils finished the season with a 12-14 record overall, while Willmar improved to 11-14-1.

PC 0 1 0--1

WIL 0 2 0--2

Scoring

Second Period

WIL-Bailey Olson, PP, (Mya Monson, Sydney Olson)

PC-Shelby Otte, ES, (Unassisted)

WIL-Serena Monson, ES, (Bailey Olson)

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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