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WIAA Hockey: Raider boys, girls reach sectional finals

Hudson junior Dani Robson (15) leaps into the arms of senior Lexie Nelson (23) after Nelson scored the go-ahead goal with 5 minutes, 11 seconds remaining to give the Raider girls' hockey team a 4-3 victory over Hayward in a WIAA Section 1 girls hockey semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Gornick Arena. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

Both Hudson High School hockey teams will be playing for state tournament berths Saturday after winning their respective sectional semifinal games Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Gornick Arena.

The Raider girls held off a stubborn Hayward team, 4-3, in the first game of the doubleheader before the boys took care of Baldwin-Woodville, 5-1, in the nightcap.

Both teams will face familiar foes in their sectional championship games Saturday, Feb. 24. The Hudson girls will play Big Rivers Conference rival Eau Claire Area for the third time this season at 2 p.m. at Gornick Arena, while the boys will meet Superior for the third time at 2 p.m. in Amery. Eau Claire defeated the St. Croix Valley Fusion (River Falls co-op), 4-3, in its sectional semifinal while Superior topped New Richmond, 4-3, in double overtime to advance.

Hudson's girls split with Eau Claire during the regular season with each team winning one goal games on their home rink, while the Raider boys swept Superior, 2-1 at home and 4-1 up north.

Lexie Nelson's power play goal with 5 minutes, 11 seconds remaining snapped a 3-3 tie the gave the Raider girls their 4-3 win over Hayward.

Hudson took a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Nikki Olund and Anna Wilgren but the Hurricanes answered with a pair f power play goals in the second period to tie it up. Wilgren's second goal of the game 4:11 into the third period put Hudson ahead 3-2, but Hayward answered just 42 seconds later to knot the score again.

A body checking penalty on Hayward at the 11:33 mark put the Raiders on the power play, and Nelson scored the game-winner from the high slot just 16 seconds later with assists going to Olund and Wilgren. Hudson finished with a 44-13 advantage in shots.

In the second game of the night, the Raider boys scored four unanswered goals in their 5-1 victory over Baldwin-Woodville.

Payton Hanson's unassisted power play goal 3:32 into the second period proved to be the game-winner. Hunter Danielson scored at the 10:57 mark to extend the lead to 3-1 before Ben Lundeen and Cole Danielson added third period goals.

Grady Gornick opened the scoring 2:08 into the game but the Blackhawks tied the score 27 seconds later. Raider goalie AJ Cohen finished with 21 saves as Hudson outshot Baldwin-Woodville, 42-22.

Hudson's girls take a record of 22-2-0 into Saturday's sectional final while Eau Claire is 21-3-0. The Raider boys' enter their game with Superior with a mark of 22-1-1 while the Spartans are 12-10-2.

The winner of both games advances to the WIAA State Hockey Tournament March 1-3 at veterans Memorial Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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