GRAND RAPIDS — The stakes were high at the Northern Minnesota Regional 12UA Hockey Tournament recently as eight of the top 12UA teams from across the North region battled for a chance to go to the State tournament.
In the first game of the tournament, Grand Rapids/Greenway Lightning (GRG) outscored their opponent, East Grand Forks, 7–0 with a shutout from goalie Claire Tobek.
Game two was more of a challenge. Alexandria, who had already beaten GRG twice during regular season play, put up a fight, but GRG fought back and won 3-2 in overtime. Coach Bowman said “I’m just so proud of the girls for battling back and improving so much this year despite everything.”
The win sent the girls into the championship game where they had to face the fourth-ranked team in the state, Roseau. The last time GRG met up with rival Roseau, the Lightning beat Roseau 4-3 on home ice. This time, GRG played hard but fell to Roseau.
Because the tournament was double elimination, the Lightning had one more opportunity to take second place in the region and advance to the state tournament. Game four was against the No. 8-ranked team in the state, Bemidji. Bemidji came out fierce, but GRG was focused and determined. Every girl on the team contributed with Ellie Troumbly starting the team off by scoring the first goal of the game. Kylie DeBay then contributed a hat trick and added three more goals to the score board. The fifth and final goal of regulation play come from Meisha Fairchild ending the third period with a 5-5 tie that took the team into overtime.
With 1 minute 56 seconds left in the 10-minute overtime, Maisie Bader, GRG defense, put one in the net to score and advance the GRG 12UA Lightning team to the state tournament with a 6-5 win over Bemidji and a second place finish in the Northern Minnesota Region.
Coach Anderson stated, “To see the team set a goal for the season to make it to the state tournament, then work hard to turn that dream into a reality five months later is something truly special. I am so proud of these young ladies!”
Behind this skilled GRG 12UA team are dedicated coaches, Brian Anderson, Jeremy Carlson, Laura Bowman and Travis Cole. They believed in the girls every step of the way. This team worked hard all year both on and off the ice, from dryland, to outside ice time, to zoom workouts during the COVID “pause,” to early bird practices; they put in the extra time and it paid off in the end, the coaches said.
“It was a year filled with adversity and these girls were constantly asked to sacrifice their own wants and desires for the betterment of their teammates and their community. In doing so they grew as young ladies and learned the benefit of being part of something bigger than yourself. It was never actually about hockey, although we will wait another week to let them know that!” stated coach Jeremy Carlson.
The Grand Rapids/Greenway 12UA Lightning team is proudly sponsored by Hawkinson Construction. The 12UA State Tournament will take place March 26-28 in Stillwater.