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Girls Hockey: Blake upends Wingers in 2OT

Red Wing's Hailee Johnson (left) tries to keep Blake's Alex Lovaas away from the puck during the third period of Friday's Class 1A state semifinal game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Red Wing's Nicole Schammel celebrates after scoring a goal in the first period Friday against Blake. Schammel scored two goals in the game, bringing her career total at state to 18, three away from tying the state record. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

ST. PAUL – The Blake School has Red Wing’s number.

Heading into Friday’s Class 1A state semifinal game, the Bears had won the last four meetings against the Wingers by a combined score of 20-8, with a 5-2 victory back on Dec. 14.

And with a berth in the state title game on the line, third-seeded Red Wing gave Blake all it could handle, coming back from 4-2 to bring the game into double overtime. But just 38 seconds into the second overtime, Carly Bullock helped the Bears keep the Wingers out of the state championship for a second straight year in a 5-4 victory at Xcel Energy Center.

“It’s a tough loss. Probably the toughest in my eight years as coach here,” said Red Wing head coach Scott Haley. “Being down 4-2 in the first two periods seems like a blur with how the kids came back and got this one into overtime.”

No. 2-seeded Blake (22-7-1) will try and win its second straight Class 1A title at noon today against top-seeded East Grand Forks. The Green Wave advanced to the finals with a 3-2 win over St. Paul United on Friday.

The last few years, Red Wing (23-7-0) has staked its claim as one of the best squads in Class 1A. One of the only teams they have not been able to figure out is the Blake Bears.

“That’s where we want our program to be, in that conversation of top three or four top Class A teams year in and year out,” Scott Haley said. “I think we’re there, but we just can’t get over that Blake hurdle.”

That hurdle became a roadblock in the second overtime when Bullock got the puck in the neutral zone. The Bears’ sophomore, who scored a pair of goals against Red Wing in the regular season, weaved past the Wingers’ defense and rattled off a wrist shot that went between goaltender Ashley Corcoran’s legs for the game-winning goal.

“I just knew that Red Wing was getting tired, so I tried to use my speed to get around the defender,” Bullock said. “I saw the (five-hole) opening – she had a pretty big one – and I just shot it.”

Earlier in the game, it looked like Blake would run away with the contest, going up 4-2 in the second period after consecutive goals by Sarah Chute, Alex Lovaas and Bullock.

Desperately needing a lift, Emily Stegora, who celebrated her birthday Friday, made it a one-score game at 13:52 of the second with an off-balance goal. The score was the boost Red Wing needed heading into the final period of regulation.

“It was pretty cool,” Stegora said about scoring the goal on her birthday. “We got a lot of momentum after that, and that was nice.”

Bears coach Shawn Reid added, “When we were up by two goals, I was hoping that we’d go into the break up by two still, and (Stegora) got a goal. And in the third, I knew it wasn’t safe. They were pouring it on in the third period.”

With elimination looming late in the third, Nicole Schammel took a rush at the net and got a pass from Maddy Hardyman. The left-handed senior ripped off a wrist shot that went off the bottom of Bears goaltender Anna Kruesel’s glove and had enough force to slowly creep over the goal line to tie it at 4-4 with 4:59 left in regulation.

“I was at the very end of my shift and I saw Hardyman get the puck. She gave me a good feed and got it on net and somehow it went in,” Schammel said. “I think that that got us really pumped up the rest of the game.”

Schammel added, “Blake was a team we wanted to beat and we weren’t going to give up. We wanted to come back, we wanted to make it a game and we weren’t going to let it get out of hand.”

With Schammel’s 63rd goal of the season, the Wingers were ready to knock off the defending state champions. And in the first overtime, both teams played even with four shots on goal apiece.

“I think we all thought we had the momentum going into (overtime),” Stegora said, “and we just played our hearts out.”

Then with one flick of the wrist in the second overtime, the Wingers’ title hopes came to a screeching halt.

“I don’t know what to say about it. It definitely is (the toughest loss of my career),” Schammel said.

Taylor Heise had a goal for the Wingers, and Caitie Turcotte and Hardyman were credited with assists in the loss.

At 9 a.m. today, Red Wing will play for third place for the second straight year against St. Paul United.

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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