Grand Rapids, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- It took four overtimes and more than 84 minutes of hockey for senior Molly Illikainen to put Grand Rapids-Greenway into this year's Class AA state girl's hockey tournament.
"They kept telling me to put it on net, put it on net," Illikainen said. "So I finally just put it on net, and it got there."
"Molly is our leader on and off the ice," Lightning head coach Brad Hyduke said, "and she showed why tonight."
If you listen to her teammates, Illikainen's success will go well beyond high school.
"She's crazy good," Grand Rapids-Greenway junior forward Kaya Baker said. "I just know she will be an Olympian, and it's awesome to be playing with her."
It's likely also awesome to be playing with Lightning junior goaltender Sydney Helmbrecht, who stopped 46 shots in that 2-1 section championship victory.
"Controlling the rebounds and keeping it simple is what we always try to do," Helmbrecht said. "You just don't want to make it hard for yourself."
"I'm so proud of her," Illikainen said of Helmbrecth. "She gave it everything and gave us a chance to win the game. I love her. I just love her."
"Sydney is an anchor for us," Hyduke said. "She's a junior captain and someone we knew was going to have to have a big game for us to have the success we did."
Helmbrecht didn't struggle with much until after the game, when she could finally call herself a section champion.
"I don't know when it's going to be real, maybe when we get there," Helmbrecht said of the Section 7AA title, "but it's not real yet."