MANKATO — Despite outshooting Willmar 62-17, Mankato East/Loyola needed nearly 70 minutes and two overtime periods before Saturday’s game was finally decided.
Rebekah Kolstad’s pass to a waiting Maddie McGargar proved the difference as the Cougars prevailed 4-3 Saturday in the Section 2A girls hockey semifinals in a tension-filled All Seasons Arena.
After a tripping penalty, the Cougars were shorthanded at the 9:48 mark of the second overtime. The Cougars won the faceoff, and Kolstad raced down the right side of the rink. McGargar trailed her and one-timed a wrist shot into the left corner of the net past Willmar goaltender Madison Sandberg.
“We were shorthanded?” Kolstad asked outside the Cougars’ locker room. “I don’t even remember; I just know it was a perfect shot.”
“And a perfect pass, too,” McCargar said. “It was a perfect play. I was just worried about getting it in the net.”
Willmar got on the board first at 4:46 of the first when a blue line shot from Riley Schneider leaked through Cougars’ goalie Katie Paulson’s pads. East/Loyola tied the game 10 minutes later when Savannah Quandt corralled her own rebound for the score.
The Cardinals retook the lead in the second period on a Miranda Roelof’s wrist shot before Kolstad evened the score after splitting the defense and lifting a wrist shot over Sandberg’s glove-side shoulder.
After Willmar killed a 5-on-3 penalty to start the third period, the Cougars took their first lead of the game four minutes later when Kolstad, on an assist from Katy Snyder, again lifted a wrist shot over Sandberg’s shoulder. The Cougars continued to control the puck and the shots-on-goal advantage, and appeared ripe to clinch the win.
But with 6:33 left in the game, Shelby Schneider tied the game.
“I give Willmar a lot of credit,” East/Loyola coach Nathan Fuller said. “Madison played tremendous; they really gave it their all. Both teams did.”