The South St. Paul Packers lost to Hibbing Chisholm 4-3 in overtime of their annual Christmas tournament. They repaid the favor to the Bluejackets in the first round of the state tournament with an impressive 3-0 victory.
"That night was really the low point. We stood 4-6-3 and I think a lot of the kids were questioning 'this isn't going to be the year'," said head coach Dave Palmquist. "The next day, we beat Blake and then we beat Roseville, and then we beat Hill-Murray all that week. The confidence level just changed."
Changed to the tune of 14-1 in their last 15 outings with the only loss, a 3-0 shutout loss to the Pioneers. The task won't get any easier for the Packers on Friday afternoon as number one seeded and ranked Warroad awaits them.
"We felt that we could beat Warroad last year," said Palmquist. "This years a little bit different going into it. This year we are definitely playing more of the underdog role."
With the game scoreless into the third period and shots as well as goals at a premium, the Packers turned to their leading goal scorer Bridgette Miller to get her team on the board. The first line continued to produce near the midway point of the final period when Riley Viner scored on a play that was originally ruled a no-goal as the official signaled the puck was thrown into the net. After review, it was determined to be a good goal and the Packers took a commanding 2-0 lead.
"We were trying to get some shots from the point but we weren't getting a lot through," said Palmquist. "We told them going into the third period it's going to be a mucky deflection all in that area that coaches talk about."
That is exactly where the Packers made their money and punched their ticket to the semifinals.
"It's definitely a good opportunity," said Abby Palmquist who scored the teams third goal. "I don't think at the beginning of the year us girls didn't have very much confidence in ourselves. After we lost to Hibbing, that's when the turning point happened."
Warroad and South St. Paul will face off in the second semi-final Friday at 1PM.