Blake coach Shawn Reid hadn’t forgotten how the Bears opened the Class 1A state tournament last season, when they edged Alexandria in the quarterfinals by a single goal. “We had a very challenging first game last year,’’ Reid said. “We wanted to make sure we started off on the right foot this year.’’

His team clearly listened, as it raced past Hutchinson 9-0 in Wednesday’s quarterfinal game at Xcel Energy Center.

The two-time defending Class 1A champion Bears (25-4-0) complemented their offensive firepower with equally strong defense, holding Hutchinson (16-11-1) without a shot on goal in the second or third periods. Blake goaltenders Anna Kruesel and Halley Fine set a state tournament record for fewest saves in a game (three), and Kruesel tied the record for fewest in a period (0).

The Bears got a hat trick from Karlie Lund, and Carly Bullock contributed two goals and three assists. Blake outshot Hutchinson 42-3, including a 23-0 margin in the final two periods.

Hutchinson attempted only two shots in the final two periods as Blake used its superior speed and playmaking to control the game. The Bears led 3-0 after the first period and added five more goals in the second, with three of those scored in the final two minutes, 33 seconds of the period.

“The score today, we didn’t anticipate by any means,’’ Reid said. “It’s a good testament to our girls. They were ready and played very well.’’ 

Red Wing 3, Alexandria 0

In hindsight, Scott Haley admitted he should have seen it coming. The Red Wing coach thought his team wouldn’t be nervous for Wednesday’s Class 1A state tournament quarterfinal, but he underestimated the emotions that grip most players on the big stage at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wingers felt some anxiety during the first period against a stout Alexandria defense. But Maddy Hardyman and Ashley Corcoran found the cure for the Wingers. Hardyman’s goal off of a defensive miscue gave the Wingers (24-4-1) a 1-0 lead at five minutes, 57 seconds of the second period, while Corcoran stood firm through a tight first period and stopped all 25 shots she faced in the game.

Alexandria (16-10-1) outshot Red Wing 10-5 in the first period but could not score despite several good chances. Reagan Haley scored twice for Red Wing and now has 47 goals this season.
“It kind of took me by surprise,’’ Scott Haley said of his team’s nerves. “After they settled down after the first (period), we started to play our style. You could see the creativity.’’

Hardyman scored after Alexandria goalie Amy Jost gloved the puck and tried to push it with her hand to a defenseman. Hardyman swooped in, seized the puck and scored from the right circle.
Alexandria came up empty on five power plays, and the Cardinals could not get past Corcoran on 13 third-period shots.

RACHEL BLOUNT

Thief River Falls 5, New Ulm 1

Possession time and shots on goal overwhelmingly were in her team’s favor after the first period, small consolation for Thief River Falls coach Whitney Restemayer.

Zero goals and a scoreless tie with New Ulm got her attention.

“We didn’t start as well as we would have liked,” she said.

Three goals in a little more than five minutes of second period play improved the Prowlers’ mood. They pulled away for a 5-1 victory.

Thief River Falls (24-1-3), carrying the No. 1 seed into its first-ever Class 1A state tournament appearance, used its offensive talents to reach Friday’s semifinal. The Prowlers’ 58 shots on goal set a state tournament record for a non-overtime game.

Holding Thief River Falls scoreless despite a 16-3 shots on goal disparity in the first period “was a confidence builder for us” New Ulm (19-9) coach Kristin Faber said.

Early in the second period, however, Prowlers’ sophomore forward Kora Torkelson switched the good vibes to her team. She scored twice in a span of one minute, 35 seconds for a 2-0 lead.

Then teammate Emily Bergland, who assisted on both of Torkelson’s goals, added a goal of her own and the Prowlers took a 3-0 lead into second intermission.

“We weren’t pleased but there was some relief,” Bergland said. “There was a different energy in the locker room. We knew if we kept pounding we would get to them.”

DAVID LA VAQUE