The top-ranked St. Croix Valley Fusion girls' hockey team earned the right to defend its state title by defeating No. 4 Hudson, 3-1, in a sectional final game Saturday night at Hunt Arena.
The Fusion, 22-4-1, will face the University School of Milwaukee (19-6-2) in a state semifinal Friday about 1:15 p.m. at Alliant Energy Center in Madison. The Central Wisconsin Storm (24-2), a co-op based out of Mosinee, and Green Bay East (23-4-0) will play in the other semifinal at 11 a.m. The winners will square off Saturday at noon in the championship game.
The Fusion are the defending state champions while Central Wisconsin won the title in 2008.
Last Saturday night before an announced crowd of 849 at Hunt Arena, Alice Cranston scored two goals and Kalli Armagost recorded 16 saves in the Fusion's 3-1 victory over the Raiders.
Junior Sig Dangeur put the Fusion up 1-0 at the 14:11 mark of the first period. Heather Shew got the puck to Tori Klingler who fired a hard shot on the ice right at Hudson goalie Alise Riedel. Dangeur redirected Klingler's shot into the net.
"Sig is very good at that play; it's kind of her specialty," head coach Matt Cranston said. "We really wanted to score first in the game; both Karl (assistant coach Karl Erickson) and I thought it would be a key in the game."
Alice Cranston buried one past the Riedel when she took a beautiful pass from sister Lily at the 7:09 mark of the second period to put the Fusion up 2-0.
Hudson's Bonnie Meyer was able to pound a rebound power play goal past Armagost at the 13:56 mark to cut the Fusion lead to 2-1. The goal was the first allowed by Armagost in 13 periods.
Alice Cranston scored her second goal of the night just 36 seconds later to extend the Fusion lead to 3-1 after receiving two nice passes from Tanis Klingler and Tara Frey.
Matt Cranston said the Fusion were focused on protecting their lead in the third period and it paid off as neither team was able to score.
"We have been working on this game for long time," he said. "We changed up our lines, changed most of our systems to win this game. (Hudson coach) Dan Dietrich's team plays a very unique style of hockey. You have to think and have a plan to beat his team. He really gets them ready for a game. They all work hard and fly all over the ice."
The Fusion advanced to the sectional final with a 4-0 victory over Chippewa Falls last Tuesday. Lily Cranston had a goal and two assists and Alice Cranston had three assists while Armagost recorded her fourth straight shutout.
Heidi Van Dell, Frey and Klingler also scored goals in the win.