The fourth-seeded Hudson Raiders came to the Somerset Ice Arena to face the number three Coulee Region Cyclones in an unlikely Section 2 final and a trip to State. In a tight game featuring stellar goal-tending on each side, the Raiders prevailed 2-1.
The Raiders promising season took a turn in mid-January when they started a seven game losing streak, which included a 3-0 loss to this very same Cyclones team. Hudson finished strong, winning four out of their last five. Then the Raiders avenged two of those seven losses by beating the Eau Claire Area Stars and St. Croix Valley Fusion to start the playoffs. Beating the Coulee Region makes it three for three.
Hudson opened the scoring with 48 seconds left in the first. Kaylie Prater skated around the right circle and roofed a shot over net-minder Diana Hanson from between the hash marks.
That was the only scoring in the first period, as Hanson stopped 11 other shots and Catterina Donna stopped all five shots she faced.
While the shot counts were not unusually high for either team, it was the quality of the saves that stood out. Each team was able to get the puck to players behind the defenders several times during the game. None of the breakaway chances were cashed in.
Hudson increased their lead to 2-0 with a power play goal. It was Kaylie Prater again, beating Hanson from between the hash marks again.
The Cyclones were able to get on the board late in the second period. After some nifty cycling action, Ashlyn Praxel scored on a wrist shot from the left inside hash marks.
Hudson 2, Coulee 1 after two periods. Shots were 21-15 Raiders.
There was to be no further scoring, even though each side had another breakaway or two. The Cyclones pulled their goalie for an extra attacker late in the period, but then picked up a body-checking penalty, which moved the face-off back to their zone. Coulee Region was forced to put Hansen back in net, and the Raiders managed to kill most of the remaining time in the Cyclones end.
Hudson will take on the Superior Spartans in their semi-final game at State. It was the Spartans who started that seven game losing streak. Four for four?