BEMIDJI — The No. 2 seeded Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors showed fight until the end, but Roseau’s Kayla Santl scored four goals to advance the top-seeded Rams to state 6-3 in the Section 8-2A Final Friday, Feb. 14.
BLF got the scoring started with less than three minutes into the second period when Lindsay Booth scored on assists from Emma Smith and Gabbie Smith.
The Warriors held their 1-0 lead for no more then two minutes when Roseau responded with a goal of its own. Santl scored her first of two second-period goals at the 4:05 mark to tie the game.
“Obviously you are feeling good at that point,” Warriors head coach Jack Freeman said of getting the first goal. “You want to get off to a good start and I thought we did. I thought we had a good first period and to get that first one you want to ride that positive energy.”
Santl then scored again at the 7:24 mark of the second to give the Rams their first lead of the game.
Ginevra Johnson added the third goal for Roseau with a little over three minutes left in the period to give the Rams their 3-1 advantage going into the final period.
The Warriors cut the gap to one goal when Sophie Robinson found the back of the net at the 4:05 mark of the third period.
“I told them just to keep fighting,” Freeman said. “The third period has been our best period all year long, so we just needed to come out and try to get the next one. Which we did. We showed fight all game long. There was never any quit.”
Santl completed her hat trick with another unassisted goal at the 6:32 mark. Less than a minute later, Santl picked up an assist on a goal by Kate Helgeson to make it 5-2 Rams.
“She’s a pure goal scorer,” Freeman said of Santl. “When she has the puck in the right spot she’s going to finish on it and to her credit she made it count.”
BLF showed life when Gabbie Smith scored a goal with under four minutes remaining to make it a two-goal game.
With Warrior goalie Breya Sawyer pulled, the Warriors peppered Roseau’s eighth-grade goalie Jada Pelowski with shots, but she saved all of them.
Santl capped her night with an empty-net goal with 41 seconds remaining to put the game away.
“They’re a bunch of fighters,” Freeman said of the Warriors last rush. “Just wish it was a better outcome.”
Roseau started the game putting most of the pucks on net. Sawyer stopped a point-blank shot by a Rams’ player with seven minutes left in the first period to keep the game scoreless.
The Warriors responded with a little pressure of their own. Gabbie Smith made a nice rush to get a shot on net, but was denied by Pelowski. Emma Booth had a backhand shot denied as well.
Roseau outshot the Warriors 11-7 in the first, but BLF went on the game’s only power play with 1:35 remaining in the first period.
Josie Kramer started the second period with two shots on net before the Rams were full strength, but Pelowski made the saves.
Sawyer ended the night with 25 saves while Pelowski saved 24 for Roseau.
The Rams defeated the Warriors three times this year, with the third win getting them to state. BLF bested the Rams the last time these two teams met in the section final in 2018.
Freeman left the game proud of the way his team fought.
“It’s a special group of kids,” he said. “They deserve such a better ending and you feel for them. They put it all on the line tonight and it didn’t go our way tonight.”
BLF’s team was a close group, due to the fact that many of them were sisters and cousins playing together.
“They have become so close as a group over the years,” Freeman said. “There’s nothing more special growing up playing the game you love with the people you love and that was the truth with this group.”
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Roseau 0 3 3 -- 6
Brainerd/LF 0 1 2 -- 3
Second period: Brd-Lindsay Booth (Emma Smith, Gabbie Smith) 2:43; R-Kayla Santl (unassisted) 4:05; R-Santl (Kate Helgeson, Sophie Helgeson) 7:24; R-Ginevra Johnson (Celine Stroot, Mephis Mertens) 13:14
Third period: Brd-Sophie Robinson (Lindsay Booth) 4:06; R-Santl (unassisted) 6:32; R-Kate Helgeson (Santl) 7:14; Brd-Gabbie Smith (Josie Kramer) 13:36; R-Santl (Anika Stoskopf) EN 16:19
Shots on goal: BLF 7-7-13 27, R 11-9-11 31
Goalies: BLF-Breya Sawyer (25 saves); R-Jada Pelowski (24 saves)
Roseau 6, Warriors 3
Key: Santl’s four goals paced Roseau to state.
Overall: BLF 17-10-1, R 21-5-2.