Warriors reign supreme with 5-2 win over Dodge County

Kaiya Sandy scored an unassisted goal for Warroad’s first tally.

Winning never gets old, and nobody knows that better than the Warroad Warriors. Despite losing more than 300 points to graduation last year, the Warriors came together and put together perhaps their most impressive title run of the last three and in the program’s five total titles.

“We came together,” said coach Layla Marvin.  “No one was picking us this year. We graduated 10, and nine are playing college hockey. We had to get it done differently.”

Without the offensive fire power the Warriors relied less on talent and more on tenacity.

“We’ve had so much skill and we’ve had two lines of division one players,” Marvin said of last year’s team. “This year we don’t have that. I think everybody in the state was writing us off.”

The Warriors were defeated by section rival Crookston during the season, but escaped them in the section finals. Warroad entered the tournament with eight losses, an anomaly for a program that lost eight games total the past three seasons. But this year’ steam returned just four regulars, so it was an entirely different team.

“We are fairly inexperienced,” Marvin said. “We had to do things differently, dump pucks and get hard on the forecheck. We overcame a lot of hurdles this year.”

Dodge County got a early power play after Vivienne Marcowka was called for interference. The Wildcats made sure and capitalized on the opportunity when Nora Carstensen scored her 35th of the season from the faceoff circle. Dodge County took a 1-0 lead early in the game against the defending champions.

Nora Cartsensen scored early for the Wildcats.

The game remained even for most of the frame until the Warriors got the answering tally. Kaiya Sandy flew into the Wildcats zone and and sent a bulletin into the back of the Wildcats net. The Warriors tied the game back at 1-1 with under four minutes to go in the first period. Moments later it was the Warriors again. This time Jaylie French fired in a shot from the circle hitting off the glove of Ida Huber and trickling in between the five hole for a goal. The Warriors held on to a 2-1 lead after one period.

Sophie Johnson watches a shot by Jaylie French squeak past Dodge County goaltender Ida Huber for a 2-1 lead for the Warriors in the first period.

The Warriors took over in the second period, starting with a early goal getting it started. Taylor Reese drove into the slot in front of Huber, and after losing control of the puck, it bounced its way behind Huber and into the net.

Midway through the second period Vivienne Marcowka rifled in a shot from the circle and added to the Warriors lead. The goal was assisted by French who was having a big championship game. Warriors took a 4-1 lead into the final period.

It was more of the same dominating presence for Warroad, scoring again in the third period. Reese scored on another good bounce, after Madilyn Skogman’s shot from the corner went underneath Huber and right to the open Reese. The Warriors were in full control over Dodge County as they eyed down another title.

The Wildcats found some momentum over halfway through the third period when Alexa Van Straaten fired the puck top shelf from the point for Dodge County. This gave Dodge County the spark they were looking for as they started finding scoring chances left and right. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Warroad’s Payton Rolli stood tall down the stretch and helped the Warriors win their third straight state championship title and fifth total in program history.

Warroad ends the season with a 22-8-0 overall record.

The Dodge County Wildcats end one of their best girls hockey seasons ever with a 23-5-0 record. head Coach Jeremy Gunderson said he was proud of his team who made their first trip too St. Paul.

“I’m super proud of thes guys,” he said. “We had our ups and downs this season and that’s the way it was today.”

Dodge County, like Warroad, has a relatively young roster, so high school hockey fans likely haven’t seen the last of them.

“This is a good group,” said Gunderson. “It was a lot of fun. I am super proud of what they did in the tournament and all season.”

But the dynasty of Warroad girls hockey continued as the Warriors leave St. Paul with a 33-10 record inside the Xcel Energy Center their third title in a row and their fifth in program history.

When asked what she thought was special about this year’s state championship team, Marvin said: “I think about grit and determination and relentlessness. We had a big target on our back last year. We just took it day by day and doing our best to get better each day. We’re excited to bring a banner home to Warroad.”