Holiday recap: Plenty to take out of A/C girls third place finish

The Armstrong/Cooper girls hockey team needed a shootout to advance into the final four of its own tournament, but after surviving, the girls got exactly what they were looking for in the three-day event.

Armstrong/Cooper finished third in the holiday tournament it hosted over break, sneaking past Totino-Grace with that shootout victory in overtime, and then responding to a one-goal loss to Red Wing in the semifinals to win a critical match-up against Buffalo in the third place game.

“Obviously we wanted to win the whole thing, but we’ll take a third place finish,” said head coach Kevin Gray. “It was a tremendous tournament, so we can’t complain too much about how we played.”

Red Wing, which is ranked second in Class A, ended up winning the tournament after beating Champlin Park 4-1 in the final.

The Wingers edged Armstrong/Cooper 3-2 in the semifinals.

Mari Verbeten and Heather Kaluzniak each scored for Armstrong/Cooper, and Ashley Ritten had 40 saves in defeat.

Jessica Halverson and Emma Terres scored the Armstrong/Cooper goals against Totino-Grace.

Marissa Odell netted the game-winner in the third place game against Buffalo with a goal at 9:44 of the third period.

Heather Kaluzniak and Stephanie Olsen also scored, and Verbeten set up a pair.

The win held more weight because of the possible section seeding scenarios that could unfold when the Section 6AA field is formed next month. Both Buffalo and Armstrong/Cooper are vying for a top-four seed, meaning the winner should have an upper hand when the seeds are finalized.

“And when you look at our section, that could be a big deal,” said Gray. “We have the top two teams in the state (Minnetonka and Benilde-St. Margaret’s) in there, so you want that highest seed possible.”

Here’s a look at how the rest of the area teams competing in holiday tournament fared over their respective winter breaks:

Champlin Park

The Champlin Park girls hockey team had hoped for a chance to defend its title in the Armstrong/Cooper Holiday Classic.

The Rebels would get that opportunity, but the second ranked team in Class A would end their chances at a repeat.

Red Wing beat Champlin Park 4-1 in the tournament championship, sending the Rebels home with a runner-up finish in the eight-team field.

Champlin Park had 45 shots on goal in the final, but would get just one to go on Courtney Potter’s goal.

The Rebels opened the tournament by beating Mahtomedi 4-3. Kaleigh Martinson scored twice in the win, and Leah Elledge and Abbey Dokken also scored for the Champlin Park.

In the semifinals, the Rebels took out No. 16AA Buffalo 3-1. Hailey Adair, Sydney Peluf and Maggie Cragg each scored a goal, Martinson set up two, and Maddy Foss made 28 saves to pick up the win in goal.

The Champlin Park boys hockey team spent its holiday break playing in the Schwan Cup Bronze Division, where the Rebels unofficially ended up in fourth place after losing in a shootout to Cretin-Derham Hall in the third place game.

That game, which will officially go into the record books as a 3-3 tie, featured a 41-save performance from goaltender Grant Schueneke and a two-point outing from Luke Dalman.

Dalman also scored in the Rebels 3-1 victory over Blake in the tournament quarterfinals.

Max Turgeon had a goal and an assist, and Reese Woods two assists in that victory.

The Rebels dropped the middle game of the tournament, losing 8-0 to eventual Bronze Division champion Mounds View.

The Champlin Park boys basketball team used its holiday tournament to win a pair of games in its bracket at the Bethel Holiday Tournament.

The Rebels routed Minnehaha Academy 90-53 in the opener, then snuck past Bloomington Jefferson 63-59 to finish a perfect 2-0.

Brennan Witt had 21 points and seven rebounds, and Matt Juneau and J.T. Gibson each added 15 points in the win over Minnehaha Academy.

Witt then score 18 points to go with 13 rebounds in the victory against Jefferson.

Park Center

It was the ladies time to shine during winter break at Park Center, and the girls didn’t disappoint.

Both the North Metro girls hockey team, and Park Center girls basketball teams won their respective holiday tournament championship.

The North Metro girls hockey team was the White Division title winner in the Schwan Cup.

The Stars rallied in all three games, including a comeback from a 3-1 second intermission deficit in the championship game with Moose Lake that North Metro eventually won in a shootout.

Taylor Anderson scored a pair of goals in the game, including the game-tying goal with 11 seconds remaining in regulation. Jessica Ward and Leah Younkers each added a pair of assists in the victory.

North Metro found itself in an early 2-0 hole and that was eventually 3-1 in its quarterfinal match-up with Eveleth-Gilbert, but the girls first rally of the week ended with a 4-3 victory.

Ward scored twice and assisted on another, Anderson had three assists and Allison Underwood two in the win.

The Stars then met Luverne in the semifinals, and again trailed 2-0 before Ward and Anderson each scored once and set up another, and Younkers, Emily Ach and Lexi Ditty also found the net in a 5-3 victory.

The Park Center girls basketball also captured a tournament title, as the Pirates won twice in two games up in Alexandria.

The girls opened with a 64-42 victory over Alexandria, and then closed out the tournament with a convincing 82-50 win over Moorhead.


The Osseo girls basketball team took its swing at three of the best programs in the state, but couldn’t connect in a trio of losses during the Dick’s Sporting Goods Classic at Hopkins.

The Orioles opened with a 60-53 loss to fourth-ranked Minnetonka, then lost to Eden Prairie 67-56 before closing the tournament with an 88-42 defeat to No. 1 Hopkins.

Janay Morton scored in double figures in each of the three games, including an 18-point outing in the loss to Minnetonka.

The Osseo boys basketball team split its two games at the Granite City Classic in St. Cloud.

The Orioles started the tournament by beating No. 10 Prior Lake 74-48, before falling to No. 2 Apple Valley 74-71.

Wheeler Baker finished with 21 points in the win over Prior Lake.

The Osseo boys hockey team was in Warroad for three days during break, where the Orioles managed a tie and a pair of defeats.

Osseo played International Falls to a 3-3 draw, and then lost to Warroad 3-1 before closing the tournament with a 4-2 defeat against Grafton, N.D.

Brooklyn Center

The Brooklyn Center boys basketball team was the champion of the Trinity Holiday Tournament.

The Centaurs won three times, beating Trinity 83-43, Simley 72-68 and St. Paul Humboldt 85-67.

Elijah Hodges had 24 points against Trinity, Michael Hudson finished with 21 in the win over Simley, and Trevonte Marshall ended up 21 against Humboldt.

The Brooklyn Center girls basketball team dropped its two games in the St. Agnes tournament.

The Centaurs lost to St. Paul Harding 46-27, and then Minneapolis Edison 57


They had to travel all the way to Silver Bay to get them, but the Cooper boys hockey team won its first three games of the year.

The Hawks repeated as holiday tournament champions after beating Ely 17-1, Moose Lake 10-0 and North Shore 5-4 in Silver Bay.

Trey Rooney had a hat trick in each of the first two victories. Justin Regnier added five points against Ely, and goaltender Angel Hillstrom earned her first career shutout against Moose Lake.

Rooney, who also had four assists in the first two games, added two more in the win over North Shore.

The Cooper boys basketball team split its two games in the holiday tournament hosted by Bethel University.

Rashad Vaughn scored 32 points and Lavar McCullough 20 as Cooper opened the tournament by beating Hutchinson 89-43.

The Cooper girls basketball team ended up with a third place finish at the Hill Murray Holiday Tournament.

The Hawks beat Cretin-Derham Hall 67-54 in the quarterfinals, and then after losing to Wayzata 67-58, Cooper came back to upend Stillwater 57-36 to finish third.

Talayiah Rich scored in double figures in each of the three games, including a 26-point outburst in the quarterfinal win over Cretin.


The Armstrong boys basketball team used its two-day visit to Edina to win a holiday tournament championship.

Mitchell Biewen scored 19 points and Jerome Dixon added 13 as the Falcons outlasted Edina 63-60 in the tournament title game.

Armstrong had advanced into the match-up with the Hornets by taking out St. Thomas Academy 44-41 in overtime of the tournament opener.

Konnor Goettsche had 16 points in that victory.

The Armstrong girls basketball team dropped each of its two games during a road trip to Alexandria over break.

The Falcons lost 65-62 in overtime to Moorhead, and then fell to host Alexandria by a count of 64-50.