Kassie Scherling delivered the overtime game-winner and Gabrielle Billing scored twice as the Rogers Royals won their playoff opener 3-2 over Coon Rapids on Wednesday evening.
“The girls were extremely excited and everyone was so happy for Kassie,” said coach Dale Sager. “She got mobbed after that goal.”
The Royals (13-10-3), after surviving the No. 8 vs. No. 9 elimination game, face top-seeded Blaine (20-3-2) on Saturday in the Section 5AA quarterfinals in Roseville at 12:30 p.m.
Coon Rapids finished 4-17-3, but in their last three games had a tie with Elk River and a win over Champlin Park, both of whom had beaten them before.
Meanwhile, Rogers had not won since Jan. 17, with three losses and two ties in their last five games. But the Royals got back on track for a playoff win.
“We had too many penalties tonight, but the effort was there,” said Sager. “I was happy to see us bounce back after giving up those two late goals.”
The Royals led 2-0 on goals by Billing in the first and third periods, the latter shorthanded on a breakaway. Billing, an eighth-grader, leads the team in scoring with 16 goals and 22 assists for 38 points.
Rogers senior goalie Michelle Klimstra made 35 saves but the Cardinals got two past her in the third period, by Allie Stalboerger (power play) and Lily Hackett to force overtime.
About two minutes remained in the OT when a Billing shot was blocked and the rebound went to Scherling on the circle. The senior defender fired off a wrist shot past the goalie’s shoulder and it wound up rattling around in the back of the net, just her second goal of the year.
Sager cited Kaitlin Braiedy for blocking several shots, the penalty kill units who were 5-for-6, and Klimstra in the nets for the team’s stout defense.