For over 60 minutes, Anna Doherty had been snake-bitten in trying to score the go-ahead goal for the Alexandria girls hockey team. But in the opening minutes of the second overtime period, she finally beat St. Cloud goaltender Ashlea Arvidson to send the Cardinals to the second round of the Section 8AA playoffs.
"She deserved that so much," Alexandria head coach Molly Arola said. "She had a goal called off and so many other chances. Not just in this game but the last few games. For her to get that one is so deserving."
The sixth-seeded Icebreakers (15-11) gave the third-seeded Cardinals (17-6-3) all they could handle. For nearly 46 minutes, St. Cloud kept Alexandria's high-powered offense in check.
"It was a good game from both teams," Doherty said. "It was back-and-forth a lot, and I think we had some great opportunities. We got the puck to the net quite a bit. It was rocky at times, but in those moments, you have to come together and push through it."
The Icebreakers had trouble scoring themselves. Midway through the second period, they come down the ice with an odd-player rush. It looked like St. Cloud took a 1-0 lead on a one-timer shot, but during the play, the net moved out of place, and the goal didn't count.
Seconds later, Alexandria thought it broke the scoreless tie when Doherty picked the top-right corner of the net. However, the officials waved off the goal as a Cardinal committed a crease infraction.
"It sucked, but there's nothing you can do about it," Doherty said. "The ref called it off and we had to move on...I think after that, it kind of built up our momentum a little bit knowing that we could find the back of the net."
With under six minutes left in the third period, senior defenseman Mayson Toft scored an unassisted goal to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. In a big moment, one of Alexandria's big-time players stepped up.
"That's why she's a senior captain," Arola said. "She has to be able to shine in those moments, just like all of our other leaders. We are very proud of her. It was obviously huge to get us on the board. We are going to be looking for more of that from her."
Jordan O'Kane had shut down St. Cloud all afternoon, but in the final minutes of the third period, the Icebreakers found some life. Gabbie Rud beat O'Kane with a seeing-eye shot to send the game into overtime.
"We just had to hit the reset button," Arola said. "It wasn't a let-down moment. We knew it was going to be a battle. It wasn't going to come easy, and it certainly didn't. The girls fought so hard until the winning goal."
During the first extra session, St. Cloud forward Taylor Holm hooked Hanley Block as they chased a loose puck. In the sudden-death session, the Cardinals had a chance to work on the power play.
Doherty had a chance to end the game in the first overtime when Kaci Trosvig found her on the back door with an open net in front of her. However, a tipped pass didn't allow Doherty to get a full shot on the goal. St. Cloud killed the penalty and forced a second overtime period.
"The rest in between periods was really good for us," O'Kane said. "The coaches talked to us about what we needed to do and how we could keep the pressure up. We wanted to bring more intensity coming out of the locker room."
The Cardinals came out strong at the beginning of the second overtime period. Under three minutes into the period, Lauren Maras found Doherty in the slot where she beat Arvidson under her arm for the game-winning goal.
"I just screamed when it happened," O'Kane said. "I had a feeling something was going to happen on that play. I could tell from the get-go that we were going to get a goal there. I started screaming and celebrating with my teammates. It was just awesome."
O'Kane made 33 saves in goal for the Cardinals in her first playoff win. The Icebreakers tested her several times with quality chances, but couldn't find a way to get past her in overtime.
"I give credit to my defense," O'Kane said. "They saved my butt so many times. They blocked shots all game. I have no words. They played great for me."
The sophomore goalie impressed her teammates and coaches with the way she stepped up in the biggest game of the season so far. Without her performance, Alexandria's season may have ended early.
"That was the best she's played," Arola said. "She kept us in there the whole time. We wouldn't have been in overtime if she didn't play like she did. She was calm, cool and collected. We needed her to play with poise and confidence, and she stepped up."
The party will be short-lived for the Cardinals as they have to turn around and face the defending section champions on Tuesday night. The second-seeded Brainerd-Little Falls Warriors (16-9-1) beat seventh-seeded Moorhead (8-17-1) 6-2 on Saturday afternoon. On Jan. 2, the Warriors beat the Cardinals 6-2 at the Runestone Community Center. This time, Alexandria looks to pull off the upset and advance to the section title game.
"They've always been tough for us because they're a good team," Doherty said. "But we are going to go in and do the best we can. We are going to lay it all out on the ice no matter what. I have full faith in my team that we can step up to this challenge and come out on top."
ST. CLOUD 0 0 1 0 0 - 1
ALEXANDRIA 0 0 1 0 1 - 2
SCORING- THIRD PERIOD- Alexandria- Mayson Toft (unassisted) 11:45; St. Cloud- Katherine Bell (Gabbie Rud) 14:57; DOUBLE OVERTIME- Alexandria- Anna Doherty (Kaci Trosvig, Lauren Maras) 2:41; PENALTIES- Alexandria 8 minutes on 4 infractions, St. Cloud- 10 minutes on 5 infractions; GOALTENDING- Alexandria- Jordan O’Kane, W, 33 saves, 1 goal allowed; St. Cloud- Ahlea Arvidson, L, 35 saves, 2 goals allowe