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Centennial/Spring Lake Park girls hockey upsets Maple Grove in Section 5AA final

The Cougars scored the game-winning goal with only 90 seconds remaining

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ROSEVILLE, Minn. — The No. 2-seed Centennial/Spring Lake Park Cougars defeated the No. 1-seed Maple Grove Crimson 2-1 Friday night in the Class 2A, Section 5 final at Roseville Ice Arena to advance to the state tournament.

The Crimson had defeated the Cougars twice earlier this season.

Maple Grove scored first. Ella Olson four minutes into the second period, but the Cougars responded with a rebound goal with a little over four minutes left in the  second period.

The Crimson had a huge opportunity in the third period, spending the majority of that time in the Cougars zone.

They struggled to put the puck in the net and had a late breakaway that resulted in a turnover. The breakaway miss was one of the more controversial moments of the game as it looked like the referees had missed a tripping call that would have resulted in a penalty shot for the Crimson.

The Cougars had some momentum flip their way late in the third period with a penalty call and power play. The Cougars, much like the entirety of the game, could not find a way to get anything going with the advantage. 

With one minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the game, the Crimson were back at full strength and seemingly had the momentum, having just stopped the Cougars from scoring on a late power play.

But, the Cougars scored on another rebound ten seconds later and put them in the driver’s seat up 2-1 with just under a minute and a half to go.

The Crimson pulled their goalie and spent nearly the entirety of the remainder of the game in the Cougars zone. Cougar goalie Kaitlin Groess held her own against a furious six player attack, and the Cougars won.

Two takeaways from the game:

Junior goalie Groess shines

Groess was easily the star of the game for either side in this matchup. The Crimson had an opportunity to blow the game open with a breakaway late in the first period, but Groess moved across the entire crease and blocked a back hand attempt that led to a 0-0 tie going into the second period.

Groess gave up an early goal in the second period, but she shut out the Crimson for the remainder of the game. Centennial/Spring Lake Park looked completely gassed after the second period, but Groess made save after save and helped the Cougars maintain some positive momentum in the game.

Penalties amount to little offensive production for either team

This game was not a clean game by any stretch. Multiple penalties were called on both Centennial/Spring Lake Park and Maple Grove throughout. After a relatively clean first period, the penalty box was full for the remainder of the game.

Both teams struggled to get much going on power plays, and all three goals in the game were scored at even strength.