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Lakers take last gasp

There are times when the difference between a win and loss is out of a team's control.

That happened to the Detroit Lakes girls' hockey team Tuesday during the play-in game for the Section 3-1A playoffs inside Kent Freeman Arena, as the third-seeded Lakers dropped out of contention in a 3-2 loss to the visiting sixth-seeded Eveleth-Gilbert Golden Bears.

The Lakers held a sizable advantage in shots on goal, outshooting the Bears 37-20, including a flurry of 14 shots in the third period alone.

But Eveleth-Gilbert had the services of its hot goalie, Brittany Moberg, who time and time again turned back a DL attack, holding the home team to one goal in each of the second and third periods. Moberg let just two get past her in the game, as the Lakers put a total of 27 shots on net in those final two periods.

"I don't think we could have done anything more," said DL head coach Dan Maloney. "We had tips, screens and good shots on net. Their goalie came up big."

The Lakers did find themselves down 2-0, after giving up a pair of power play goals in the first period to forward Noel Clapsaddle and Cara Rice, with Megan Seppi assisting on both tallies.

But the Lakers took over control in the second period, adding a power play score of their own on the first of two goals by forward Sophia Wagner, the first coming 6:44 into the second, with an assist by forward Kelsey Grabow.

The Lakers were one player short heading into the third, but the penalty kill unit did its job, not allowing the Bears much of an opportunity to extend their lead early in the final period.

After DL was able to kill its penalty, the Lakers took total control of the puck, pelting Moberg time and time again.

Finally the Eveleth goalie bent, giving up the tying goal to Wagner 6:13 into the final frame with defensive player Britt Raftevold lending the assist.

"We were able to kill that penalty off to start the third, and we were able to take over from there," Maloney added.

The Lakers outshot Eveleth-Gilbert by a 15-6 margin in the third period alone, but it would be the Bears that registered the final goal.

With 4:38 remaining in regulation, center Malory Rice cleaned up a rebound goal after the Lakers failed to clear the puck out of the crease. Rice found the puck and poked it past DL goalie Janaye Johnson for the 3-2 lead.

DL made several pushes on the Golden Bear net, but Moberg would hold strong to preserve the victory. Johnson finished with 17 saves, while Moberg had 35.

"It was a great season for the girls," Maloney said of DL's 12-12-1 record on the year. "It was just great to see how well they improved over the course of the season."

The Golden Bears will move on to play at second-seeded Silver Bay Thursday. Hibbing has the top-seed, with the semifinals being played Monday, Feb. 13, at a neutral site.

The section finals will be Thursday, Feb. 16, at Thief River Falls. Warroad holds the top seed in the north half of the section.

Laker results

Section 3-1A playoffs play-in game: (6) Eveleth-Gilbert at (3) Detroit Lakes, Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Bears 2 0 1 - 3

Lakers 0 1 1 - 2

First period -- 1. EG, PPNoel Clapsaddle (Megan Seppi) 4:50; 2. EG, PP Cara Rice (Seppi) 16:50.

Second period -- 3. DL, PP Sophia Wagner (Kelsey Grabow) 6:44.

Third period -- 4. DL, Wagner (Britt Raftevold) 6:13; 5. EG, Malory Rice (UA) 12:22.

Saves -- DL (Janaye Johnson) 8 4 5 - 16...EG (Brittany Moberg) 10 11 14 - 35.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.