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Lakeville North's Christi Vetter (21) celebrated after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime as the Panthers defeated North Wright County 5-4 Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. CARLOS GONZALEZ cgonzalez@startribune.com

The power-play backup plan gave Lakeville North a 5-4 overtime victory over North Wright County on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Christi Vetter slapped in a pass intended for teammate Ashley Kloncz to salvage what earlier appeared to be an easy Panthers victory in a Class 2A girls' hockey quarterfinal.

"Any girl who is there to take the shot, it's theirs for the shot ... they're planning for it. You have to be ready at all times," Vetter said. "I'm going to be there 100 percent of the time to back my girls up."

That winning mindset was nearly lost, though, within 71 seconds of the third period's final four minutes. North Wright County scored two goals in that short span to extend the game.

Kaleigh Hamann slid toward the net desperate for a goal that could save the River Hawks' season. While falling to the ice, she found the puck and pushed it into the net to tie the score 4-4 with 2:49 remaining.

Maddi Sjelin scored the first of the two goals on a rebound of Rachel Heiber's shot.

The River Hawks continued to pressure the Panthers after tying the score. Rachel King's and Amanda Dorholt's breakaway nearly gave North Wright County the victory. The pair had no one in between them and Lakeville North goaltender Cassie Alexander, but the Panthers senior stretched out as much as possible to make the save.

"I for sure thought that was the game- winner," Heiber said.

The Panthers' victory sets up a rematch of last year's semifinal, a 2-1 overtime loss to Minnetonka.

JASON GONZALEZ

 

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