The St. Croix Valley Fusion had a win and a tie against Hudson in their two Big Rivers Conference games this season, but Hudson got the win that counted last Tuesday night, Feb. 19.
The Raiders battled back from a 2-0 first period deficit to post a 5-3 victory over the Fusion in a WIAA sectional semifinal on their home ice at Gornick Arena.
The loss and tie to St. Croix Valley were the only two blemishes on the BRC champion Raiders' conference record this year. But Tuesday's win not only avenged Hudson's earlier loss and tie, it sent the second-seeded Raiders to the sectional championship game against top-seeded Eau Claire Area Saturday, Feb. 23, where they defeated the Stars 3-1 to earn a berth in the WIAA state girls hockey tournament this weekend in Madison
The Fusion jumped on the Raiders early in their sectional semifinal matchup with a power-play goal by Juneau Paulson 2 minutes, 43 seconds in with an assist from Amber DeLong.
Hudson's second penalty of the period with just under two minutes remaining cost them again when Lilly Accola one-timed a shot from the point to extend the Fusion lead to 2-0. Jaden Woiwode and Abbie DeLong assisted.
That's when Hudson's leading scorer, Sydney Hendricks, took over. Hendricks put back a rebound of a Rose Giblin shot 3:37 into the second period to cut the deficit in half, then tipped in a shot by Giblin from the point 1:15 later to tie the score.
St. Croix Valley hit a pipe but couldn't capitalize on a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted just over a minute midway through the second period, and Hendricks made them pay by poking the puck underneath sprawled out Fusion goalie Sydney Seeley for the go-ahead goal at the 14:37 mark. Her sister Kennedy earned an assist on the play.
And Sydney Hendricks wasn't done yet. She scored her fourth goal of the game 4:19 into the third period, with Giblin picking up her third assist, to extend Hudson's lead to 4-2.
The goal turned out to be a big one when St. Croix Valley's Anna Albrightson put home a rebound of an Abbie DeLong shot while the Fusion were on another power play with eight minutes remaining. St. Croix Valley pulled Seeley for an extra skater with just over a minute left but Dani Robson sealed the win for Hudson with an empty-net goal from the far blue line with 32 seconds on the clock.
Seeley finished with 17 saves and Hudson goalie Alayna Kushiner made 14 as the Raiders outshot the Fusion 22-18.
Hudson will take a record of 15-9-2 into this weekend's state tournament while St. Croix Valley's season comes to an end with a record of 16-8-2.