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East Ridge girls hockey: Raptors lose heartbreaker to top-seeded Burnsville

East Ridge’s season came to a close in stunning fashion Saturday in a 2-1 double overtime loss to Burnsville in the Section 3AA semifinals at Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights.

The top-seeded and 12th-ranked Blaze escaped with a win when Paige Skaja scored with 5 minutes 46 seconds left in the second overtime.

Skaja’s second goal of the game ended a bizarre game that saw the Raptors score what appeared as the game-winning goal at the end of the first overtime. The puck crossed the goal line but the referees ruled it did not cross the line before time expired.

Jaedyn Walz put a shot on goal that appeared to bounce off a Burnsville player’s stick into the back of the net. Fourth-seeded East Ridge (15-10-1) thought the game ended with the goal and it set off a bench-emptying celebration.

“I always thought once it’s a goal, it’s a goal,” Raptors head coach Wes Walz said. “I don’t know how they were able to overturn the situation. I have video of it and I can’t tell myself if the puck went over. We’re not finger pointers. It’s obviously very disappointing for the girls.”

Overtime saw a combined seven penalties to go along with three in the final 30 seconds of regulation.

Skaja gave the Blaze (18-8-1) a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 13:10 of the first period, but East Ridge tied it 29 seconds into the second period with a power-play goal from Jessie Andersen.

The Raptors had seven power-play chances and converted on just one.

“In overtime we had a couple of opportunities.” Walz said. “I thought our power play kind of let us down a little bit in overtime. We had a couple of chances but we weren’t executing.”

Burnsville put 36 shots on goal and Erin Cheatham made several big stops to finish with 34 saves.

Walz admired the way the team came together this season to play as one group.

Prior to the semifinal loss, East Ridge opened the section tournament with a 3-1 victory over Eagan Wednesday at Bielenberg Arena in Woodbury.

After two scoreless periods, Andersen scored to give the Raptors a 1-0 lead over the fifth-seeded Wildcats at the 7:03 mark of the third.

Eagan came back 2:23 later with a power-play goal from Emily Groff to tie it.

Jessica Hammer scored the game-winner at 13:32 on the power play and Andersen added an empty net goal to ice the game.

East Ridge had 25 shots in the game and Cheatham made 20 saves in the win.

East Ridge graduates six seniors off its final roster — Hammer, Rachel Rollins, Cassandra Goff, Jaedyn Walz, Kayla Bender and Kayla Griffith.

—Nick Gerhardt