A top 10 team in Class 2A ended the Royals’ dream of making the state tournament on Tuesday night at Roseville Ice Arena in Roseville.

No 4. Maple Grove (20-6-1) defeated Rogers (14-10-3) 4-1 to advance to the Section 5-2A final on Friday night against Blaine (17-10-0). Rogers has been eliminated in the section semifinal in every season since 2016-17.

“The game was a pretty good example of how our season went, played hard, great effort, did a lot of things well, but struggled to score goals at times,” head coach Joel Wesloh said. 

“They all are a huge part of any success we have had over the last number of years and have helped build a great foundation for the future,” Wesloh said.

Freshman defender Emily Oakland gave the Crimson the lead in the second period. At 2:45 of the period, Oakland beat Royals senior goaltender Hailey Hartlage for her first-career goal. 

Rogers tied the game at one when senior forward and co-captain Allison Hatcher scored her 10th goal of the season. Maple Grove reclaimed the lead when junior forward Lauren Stenslie scored on the power-play at 12:31. The Crimson wouldn’t look back, scoring twice in the third to end the Royals’ season.

Maple Grove swept the season series over Rogers 2-0, outscoring the Royals 9-5. The Crimson won the only regular-season game between the two programs 5-4 on Jan. 28 at Rogers Activity Center.

Offensive Player of the Game

Stenslie scored twice, including an empty netter late in the third period. It was her ninth multi-goal game of the season and first since Jan. 18 when she scored two against Osseo-Park Center in the Crimson’s 8-1 win over the Orioles.

Defensive Player of the Game

Maple Grove junior goaltender Brooke Cassibo made 28 saves for her 18th win of the season. 

Rogers gets revenge on Centennial

After getting knocked out by Centennial in the 2018 and 2019 Section 5-2A semifinals, the third time was indeed the charm for the Royals. 

Rogers defeated the Cougars (12-13-1) 3-1 on Saturday afternoon at Roseville Ice Arena.

Head coach Joel Wesloh said Saturday’s game was one of the most complete efforts he has seen from the Royals this season.

“We competed hard,” Wesloh said. “We capitalized on some opportunities, got great goaltending. That’s the formula for success in the playoffs.” 

While on a power play, Rogers fell behind in the first period when Centennial senior forward Allison Pitlick beat Hartlage on a breakaway. After Hartlage stopped Pitlick’s initial shot, Pitlick managed to push the rebound past her. It was Pitlick’s 21st goal of the season.

Rogers answered almost immediately when sophomore forward Anna Scherling beat Cougars senior goaltender Anna Gilgosch at 11:46 of the first period with a wrist shot for her third goal of the season. Senior forward Paige Vreeman gave the Royals the lead less than five minutes later at 16:11 of the period. Vreeman skated past two Centennial defenders and beat Gilgosch top shelf for her team-leading 18th goal of the season.

Leading 2-1 after one, senior forward Ella Achterkirch picked an opportune time to score her second goal of the season and first since Jan. 25. Achterkirch beat Gilgosch with a wrister at 2:50 of the second. That was all Rogers needed. 

Achterkirch said it felt good to score a key goal for her team because she doesn’t score a lot.

“It’s not a feeling that I get that much,” Achterkirch said. “It was really nice to go by our bench and have everyone cheering us on. It was a real morale booster. It helped us stay through the game.”

Neither team scored in the third, but the Cougars did outshoot the Royals 10-6. Hartlage stopped all 10 third-period shots as Rogers hung on for the 3-1 win and a little bit of revenge for the last two postseasons.

Scherling said the Royals did the little things right, like blocking shots and taking away passing lanes.

“We need to do those little things,” Scherling said. “If we don’t, those are the things that make us lose the game. That’s why we came out with the win.”

Offensive Player of the Game

While Vreeman did score the game winner, Achterkirch was the unsung hero that stepped up for Rogers when it needed an insurance goal.

Defensive Player of the Game

Hartlage made 26 saves for her 13th win of the season and the 60th of her career. 

What’s next

Rogers’ season is over. 

Maple Grove will face Blaine in the section final on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at Roseville Ice Arena. It will be the first time since 2017 that the two teams have played each other in the section final. The Bengals and the Crimson have played against each other in each of the past three postseasons. Blaine has won two of the three section playoff meetings in the last two seasons. Maple Grove won the most-recent game between the two programs on Jan. 7, winning 4-1 at Maple Grove Community Ice Arena.

Wesloh said the senior class of Achterkirch, Hartlage, Hatcher and four others will be missed.

“They all are a huge part of any success we have had over the last number of years and have helped build a great foundation for the future,” Wesloh said.

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