When the going gets tough, that’s when Grand Rapids/Greenway gets going. After out-shooting Centennial more than 2-1, they still found themselves down by a goal late in the third. Instead of folding, they turned their shot margin into a margin of victory winning 2-1 in overtime in the Class 2A quarterfinals Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.
“It was a great game. Just a gutsy performance all around,” said Lightning coach Chris Granley. “We never quit, we never gave up. We play a tough schedule all year long, so if you go down by a goal, you don’t panic, you play with confidence and you believe in yourself that you’re going to come back.”
The difference maker was Molly Arola. She crashed the net countless times until it finally paid off as she netted the game-winning goal at 2:22 of the extra frame.
“She finds a way to get in the mix,” said the first year coach. “We knew it was going to be a puck on net or a rebound goal and she’s just tough around the net and she battled her way there tonight.”
Both teams struggled finding the net. But the bigger issue was staying out of the penalty box. GRG had five penalties for ten minutes; Centennial was penalized eight times for 16 minutes. Five of those total infractions came in the third period and overtime, including a Jenna Travis’ holding penalty during which GRG scored the winner.
“It shortens up your bench and people are out there a little more than you’d like and they’re taxed already,” explained Granley. “It’s definitely a challenging thing when you’ve got a power play and then a penalty kill to deal with and they’re dealing with it too, you could see that both teams were feeling it. They were a little gassed there at the end, but we pulled together as a team.”
Cassi Carpenter stood strong in net, turning away 31 of 33 shots by the Lightning, but Grand Rapids/Greenway tried not to let it get them down.
“You know in a tight game whether or not you have territorial advantage or not you gotta make them pay on the scoreboard,” said Granley. It seems throughout the season that if a team gets a goal on us all of a sudden instead of sinking down, our bench jumps up and they just start pushing each other and getting each other going and rallying the troops and we did it again.”
They’ll face another hot goalie on Friday night in the semifinals. Eighth grader Jessica Erchul of Farmington pitched a shutout on 35 shots against Eagan helping her team move on to the next round. It looks like the Lightning might have to rally the troops once again.