Girls Hockey: Red Wing ends home stand with win
Even after beating 10th-ranked St. Paul United 7-2 at home Tuesday, there is still some skepticism from Red Wing head girls hockey coach Scott Haley.
"I still don't know for sure if we're better or some of the competition is down," Haley said.
But after opening the season with wins against two ranked teams and outscoring opponents 28-5, even Haley can't be too critical.
"We're playing really well, and it's been a pretty special start," he said. "Everything's building for February for us."
Ranked third in Class 1A in Tuesday's state hockey polls, the Wingers' defense set the tone early, thanks to the forward line of Nicole Schammel, Emily Stegora and Reagan Haley. Just 1 minute, 19 seconds into the first period, Schammel got a steal in the Spartans' territory. Weaving through the defense, Schammel found Stegora open for a quick wrist shot to give Red Wing the early 1-0 advantage.
"They were trying to get it out of the zone and (the puck) just kind of slipped into my stomach," Schammel said. "I almost lost control of it, but I was able to find Emily for the goal."
Midway through the period, Schammel came up with another steal. But this time, the junior forward took it herself, deking out St. Paul United goaltender Sonja Knudson to go up 2-0.
"We're just a really fast team and we've been giving other teams fits," Schammel said of the Wingers' defense.
At 8:03, Red Wing got its third goal of the first period when Reagan Haley snatched a rebound in front and buried the puck in the back of the net.
The Wingers' top line struck again at 6:21 of the second period when Paige Haley left a drop pass for Schammel, who snapped a wrist shot into the top of the net for the 4-0 lead.
"The credit has to go to that whole top line," Scott Haley said. "That unit is focused on being the top line in the state."
Facing the huge deficit, the Spartans applied heavy pressure on the Wingers. Finally, with 2:05 left in the second, St. Paul United broke through when Alev Baysoy fought through traffic in front of the net to beat Red Wing goalie Ashley Corcoran for a goal. Just 12 seconds later, Kate Hallett received the puck off the faceoff and chipped in another goal for the Spartans, giving the team a much-needed momentum boost.
St. Paul United outshot Red Wing 19-10 in the second period.
"We got a little sloppy there, and their number 16 (Hallett) really led the charge there," Scott Haley said.
Trying to keep the lead intact, the Wingers' defense stayed strong in the third period, keeping the Spartans out of the net for the rest of the game. Corcoran finished with 34 saves in the victory.
"We were a little disappointed with our defensive effort in the second," Schammel said. "We wanted to play strong in the third and block a lot of shots."
Scott Haley added, "I was really impressed with our team defense. The girls did a good job of filling lanes and blocking shots. It was probably the best defense we've played all year."
With 12:54 left, Stegora notched her second goal of the game, scooping up a loose puck for the 5-2 lead, putting the momentum back in the Wingers' favor.
From there, Schammel continued her hot start to the season with two third-period goals, finishing the game with five points (4 goals, 1 assist).
Going 4-0 in their season-opening home stand, Red Wing makes its first road trip on Nov. 27, taking on Totino-Grace in a non-conference contest.
"We talked early on about wanting to get off to a quick start and making (Prairie Island Arena) a difficult place for teams to play," Scott Haley said. "This was a great gauge game for us. They are one of the better teams in the state."