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Chris Murphy, Published February 14 2013

Moorhead girls reach section championship after a comeback, two upset victories


Moorhead’s girls hockey team was 41 seconds away from its season being over. Just 41 seconds away from 10 seniors hanging up their jerseys forever and feeling the sudden gut-wrenching realization that their high school careers were over.

Forty-one seconds and two upsets later, the seventh-seeded Spuds are playing in the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 championship with a chance to go to the state tournament for the first time since 2006. They play at 7 p.m. today at Bernicks Arena in Sartell against top-seeded North Wright County.

“I think those 10 seniors are sharing that feeling of do or die, so you have to play with your heart in every second and every shift,” Moorhead coach Kaylee Black said. “If you’re not playing with your heart, you’re probably not going to go much further.”

With 41 seconds left versus a second-seeded Roseau team that had beaten Moorhead (9-16-1) twice, the Spuds had already yanked sophomore goalie Brianna Storms in desperation. Her senior teammate Ashlie Talley had given Storms a confidence booster midway through the third period.

“After they scored that second goal to make it 2-1,” she said, “ ‘We will get that second one back. We will win this game,’ ” Storms said. “I knew we could do it.”

There was one problem. Talley didn’t think they could do it.

“When we went down 2-1, I told my goalie that we were going to get it get back and to not worry,” Talley said. “But I didn’t think we were going to get it.”

Talley got it, tying the game with 41 seconds left on her second goal of the game, leading to a Tori Davis overtime goal to give Moorhead the first-round win 3-2. Even after Talley had lived up to her promise to her goalie, she still didn’t believe it.

“When we scored, I didn’t even know we scored until I saw my linemate freaking out,” Talley said. I went back to the bench and could not believe I had just scored the goal to tie it.”

Moorhead never trailed in the section semifinals, knocking off the No. 6-seeded River Lakes squad 7-2 behind two goals and an assist from Jenna Ulberg and 37 saves from Storms. It set up a matchup with top-seeded North Wright County (22-4-1).

Coming into the playoffs, the Spuds had a 3-6-1 record against section opponents. Now, the Spuds are looking for their third win in a row over a section foe to get to state.

“We’ve known all season long we’ve had the talent, but we just needed to buy into the same end goal,” Black said. “When we started doing that, we starting playing. When you have a good feeling and hold on to it and you let the positivity be your dictator, good things happen.”

Moorhead isn’t going into the championship game simply happy to be there. The Spuds don’t want an invite; they want to crash the party. After all, this is a North Wright County team that the Spuds only lost to 3-2 nearly two weeks ago.

“We all want this game,” Talley said. “We either give it our all or we don’t have another week of hockey.”

Storms already has the confidence going into the championship, even without a fib from Talley.

“We barely lost to North Wright County,” Storms said. “If we play how we did against Roseau, I think we have a great shot of going to state.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548