By Matthew Davis
Beating the same team three times in a season comes with difficulty.
Champlin Park girls hockey found it to be the case in a 5-1 loss to Centennial on Saturday, Feb. 8 in the Section 5AA quarterfinals at Roseville Arena. The No. 5-seed Rebels had beaten the No. 4-seed Cougars in their previous two meetings, but the Cougars scored four unanswered goals this time around to advance.
“They just had a little more energy than we did,” Rebels coach Jim Koltes said.
Down 1-0 after the first period, Maggie Cragg tied things up for the Rebels with a goal at 6:10 in the second period. Her unassisted goal turned out to be the only score of the day for the Rebels.
Troubles scoring had been an Achilles heel all season for the Rebels. While they had their share of shots in the final period, none could go in.
The Rebels fell behind 3-1 on two goals by the Cougars in the second period. Defensively, the Rebels gave up 15 shots by the Cougars in the period.
“We put ourselves behind the eight ball a little bit,” Koltes said. “They got a few goals on us, and we were taking some chances trying to score and ended up getting a few breaks back towards us.”
The Cougars pulled away with a power play goal and an empty netter in the final period. Hannah Goettl finished with 27 saves in net for the Rebels. She had a save percentage of .871 in the postseason loss.
“Our goalie was in a good position; they just made a good shot,” Koltes said about the power play.
With a young team, many of the Rebels players will return for next season. That crew includes Goettl, a junior, who had a .957 save percentage this season.
“We found out that we have some really good young players on the team,” Koltes said.
“They had a good season,” Koltes added. “We’re proud of them.”
Champlin Park (19-2, 14-1 Northwest Suburban) may have dipped in the rankings from No. 3 to No. 4 this past week, but their play certainly didn’t.
Four or more Rebels hit double figures as they trounced Elk River 83-46 on Wednesday, Feb. 5 and Coon Rapids 97-45 on Friday, Feb. 7. Brennan Witt had 18 points to lead the Rebels over the Elks in the Feb. 5 win, and Jeremy Johnson had a team-high of 15 for the Rebels against the Cardinals.
Johnson also hit for 15 in the win over the Elks, and Ian Smith and Marty Hill each scored 11. While they had a 37-26 halftime lead, they simply pulled away more in the second half on a 46-20 tear.
Hill hit for 14 points against the Cardinals, and Smith, McKinley Wright and JT Gibson each had 12. Witt scored 11 points as the Rebels cracked the 90-point mark for the seventh time this season.
Round two with Elk River did not turn out in Champlin Park’s favor.
After winning by a point on the Elks’ home floor in December, the Rebels blew a 12-point halftime lead and fell 60-56 on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Sydney Hilley stepped up for the Rebels in Hanna Crymble’s absence with 23 points, but the Rebels could not slow down Abi Scheid.
She had a game-high of 25 points for the Elks as the Rebels fell at home. Only one other Rebel hit double figures besides Hilley as Lexi Alexander scored 12 points.
The Rebels could not get the stop they needed trailing by two, 57-55, in the final minute of the game. They gave up free throws and mustered only one point from the free throw line themselves in the final minute.
Crymble returned to the lineup on Friday, Feb. 7 as the Rebels routed the Coon Rapids Cardinals 59-23.
She had 11 points, and Alexander also had 11 as the Rebels jumped to a 31-13 first half lead. Hilley scored nine points, and the Rebels improved to 10-8 overall and 8-6 in the Northwest Suburban Conference.