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Warroad scores late to beat EGF, advances to state

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Warroad Girls hockey players pile on goalie Emma Brunelle after defeating East Grand Forks for the Section 8A championship Thursday in East Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 3
East Grand Forks Livia Pesch controls the puck against Warroad in Thursday's Section 8A championship in East Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald3 / 3

When the East Grand Forks Senior High girls hockey team scored an extra-attacker goal with 36 seconds left, the Civic Center crowd went crazy.

The fans' buzz didn't even have a chance to die down before Warroad scored the game winner.

Warroad sophomore defender Kaitlyn Kotlowski's rocket shot with 26 seconds left gave the Warriors a 3-2 win over the Green Wave on Thursday night in the Minnesota Section 8A championship game.

"What a switch of emotions," Warroad coach David Marvin said. "Kotlowski makes a big-time play with a big-time shot. There's no other way to say it because it takes that to beat that goalie."

Warroad, which improved to 17-8-2, won back-to-back section titles. Although seeding won't take place until later in the weekend, the Warriors are a probable No. 3 seed entering the state tournament, which will begin Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

On the game-winning goal, Kotlowski took advantage of a fallen Green Wave player in the faceoff circle to come in on standout EGF goalie McKenzie Whalen.

Kotlowski, who also scored in the second period to tie the game at 1-1, faked a slapshot to deke around a defender and fired top shelf to beat Whalen, who finished with 32 saves.

"We were nervous because we knew they had a good goalie," said Kotlowski, who is a University of Wisconsin commitment. "We worked really hard, and I'm proud of my team. It's really exciting, knowing you're going to state with that goal."

The Green Wave and the Warriors tied twice during the regular season, and the game looked destined to head to overtime for a third time in the section championship.

The Green Wave pulled Whalen with 50 seconds left and Warroad iced the puck with 39 seconds to go.

East Grand Forks won the ensuing draw and Livia Pesch took the puck in the slot and scored on Warroad goalie Emma Brunelle (21 saves).

"We're lucky to get by a good team," Marvin said. "They're disciplined and classy, and they have a stud goalie. We feel very fortunate."

The Green Wave, who received a first-period goal from Nicole Schlenk, ended the year with a record of 14-7-4.

"They're taking this one pretty hard," East Grand Forks coach Jim Enright said. "From my end, it was a good game, and I hope everyone was entertained. I wish we could've come out on top.

"We wanted to get the puck in deep on the last draw. It was just a good play by them. I don't think we took a break or anything. I'm proud of the girls. They work hard and don't quit. They're a fantastic group."

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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