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Top sports stories 2009, No. 2: Keeping up with the boys

Red Wing's Lydia Wagner shoots the puck over the shoulder of Fergus Falls goalie Karlee Werre for the game-winning goal during the third period Feb. 25, 2009.1 / 2
Lydia Wagner celebrates with Paige Haley (16) after Haley's goal against Fergus Falls in the Class A state tournament Feb. 25, 2009. - Republican Eagle file photo2 / 2

A year after it finished with a 6-21 record, the Red Wing girls hockey team finished third in Class A. The Wingers did it with the youngest team in the state tournament field -- their average grade was 9.06 -- and without their starting goalkeeper.

The Wingers advanced to the Xcel Energy Center and beat two teams when they got to St. Paul thanks in large part to the play of junior defenseman Rose Alleva and freshman goalie Lisa Nibbe.

Alleva finished with a team best 62 points (34 goals, 28 assists). She was named to the all-tournament and all-state teams. Plus, she was selected as the Class A recipient of the Herb Brooks award.

Nibbe recorded 78 saves in three state tournament games -- including 26 on Feb. 28 in a 2-1 win over Mahtomedi in the third-place game. She also was named to the all-tournament team.

Even though she spent every minute on the bench down the stretch, sophomore goaltender Quinn McGough was an integral member of the team. Diagnosed with follicular lymphoma on Jan. 7, McGough became a source of inspiration for Red Wing.

"I think it's good that she sits there because when you get to the bench and you see her face you want to work as hard as you can the next shift for her," Paige Haley said.

McGough's cancer is in remission and she is back on the ice. She is 3-0 this season.