The Austin Packers girls hockey team, the No. 5 seed in the Section 1A tournament traveled to Bud King Ice Arena in Winona Wednesday evening for a quarterfinal matchup with the No. 4 seeded Winhawks, and Winona used a three-goal second period and a strong game in net from goaltender Aliya Gricius to move into the semi-finals with a 4-1 win.
Sophomore forward Kasja Kovala gave Winona a 1-0 lead with a goal at 10:11 of the first period, and Kovala then assisted on what turned out to be the game-winning goal scored by sophomore defenseman Kelsi Rose at 8:09 of the second period to make the score 2-0. Asta Griggs, another sophomore defenseman for the Winhawks lit the lamp at 9:59 of the period for a 3-0 Winona lead, and Kovala scored again at 15:02 of the period for a 4-0 Winona lead at the end of two. Senior defenseman/forward Sara Wangen scored Austin’s only goal of the game, her team-leading 24th of the season at 10:02 of the third period to account for the 4-1 final.
Austin outshot Winona 32-18 for the game, but sophomore goaltender Aliya Gricius turned away 31 shots to earn the win between the pipes, while 8th grade netminder Chloe Schaal kicked out 14 shots for Austin. The Packers were whistled for two penalties for four minutes, while Winona was called for four penalites for eight minutes in the game, and both teams were scoreless on the power play.
Austin’s season comes to an end with a record of 2-21, while the Winhawks will now play No. 1 seed Dodge County at the Dodge County Ice Arena in Kasson in the Section 1A semi-finals at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 11th. The other semi-final matchup Saturday night will pit No. 2 seed Albert Lea against No. 3 seed Waseca at City Arena in Albert Lea at 7 p.m., and the winners Saturday night will play for the Section 1A girls hockey title at the Steele County Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 16th.