Girls Hockey: Red Wing stops Tartan, eyes playoffs
With the Section 1A playoffs 48 hours away, Red Wing came into Monday’s regular-season finale against Tartan with a post-season state of mind.
That attitude worked for the first 18 minutes as the Wingers built a two-goal lead behind Emily Stegora’s hat trick. But the Titans would even the game by the end of the second, only to see Nicole Schammel slam the door with a pair of third-period goals to give Red Wing its 18th win of the year.
“We wanted to treat today like it was a playoff game,” Schammel said, “and, honestly, I think the game was a little bit closer than we expected it to be going into the third. But it was huge for us to win a close game going into the third, going into sections, so we have that confidence that if we run into that again, we can execute in sections.”
Initially, there seemed to be little in the way of the Wingers and Wednesday’s date with Waseca. Stegora opened the scoring 2 minutes, 2 seconds into the game, and then scored again 63 seconds later. Even after Tartan got on the board at 4:47, Red Wing was in control.
And when hats hit the ice at 15:43, the rout appeared inevitable.
“My teammates, they dished me the puck and I was just there to put it in the net,” Stegora said of her first-period scoring outburst.
But the Titans would not leave Prairie Island Arena quietly, scoring twice in the second while holding the Wingers to just six shots on goal.
“I felt like the first period was a great primer for the playoffs, and I thought we got kind of sloppy in the second period and the third period. I don’t know, maybe it backfired on us,” said Red Wing head coach Scott Haley of playing two days ahead of a playoff game. “I don’t know what we gained tonight other than we got a good skate in before the playoffs.”
Still, the game breaks up what would be five days of practice, and it’s something Haley and the team are used to.
“We’ve done it in the past, and it’s obviously worked,” Haley said. “We played Tuesday when we had the bye. On paper, theoretically, a team like we played tonight should be a little tougher than our competition on Wednesday. So you kind of hope there’s a pace and a tone set. That’s what we try and use it for.”
The Wingers got back to that pace in the third period as Schammel finished off the Titans with two goals, including a short-handed tally at 10:33 that came on a perfect two-on-one pass from Taylor Heise. Reagan Haley assisted on all three of Stegora’s goals, with Schammel picking up assists on Stegora’s second and third goals. Stegora got her own assist on Schammel’s first goal, as did Caitie Turcotte.
For Schammel, Stegora and defenseman and fellow tri-captain Hailee Johnson, Monday’s victory puts their careers in a different perspective. From here on out, it’s win or go home. And as the three seniors on the roster, there is a little bit more on the line.
“It’s really sad, I’m sad it’s coming to an end. It’s bittersweet,” Stegora said of the final few weeks of her prep career. “But I just want to make the most of it and hopefully get a win for my team with the last two home games. I can’t believe it.”
The first of those games is Wednesday against Waseca. The third-ranked (Class A) Wingers, the top seed in Section 1A, will host the eighth-seeded Bluejays in a rematch of the last two section semifinals. In 2012, Red Wing cruised to a 9-0 win, and in 2013, the Wingers walloped Waseca, 13-1.
Should Red Wing move on to Saturday’s semifinals, it will be the last chance the senior trio takes the Prairie Island Arena ice.
“It’s come up quick,” Johnson said. “I never thought it would be this fast. It’s sad, it’s kind of bittersweet. But everything has to come to an end sometime.”
When that sometime happens is unknown. The section final would be played Thursday, Feb. 13 in Owatonna. Red Wing, the three-time defending section champion, has its eyes on a fourth straight trip to the state tournament. To get there, it’s likely the Wingers will have to go through second-seeded, and 17th-ranked New Prague.
Scott Haley will be counting on the outgoing class to show the way.
“You can tell that there’s a little jump in their steps tonight,” he said. “You typically get that from senior kids here at the end, so that was nice to see. And with all three being such big contributors, it certainly has a big impact.”
Schammel named Ms. Hockey semifinalist
Joining a list of nine other future Division I athletes, Red Wing’s Nicole Schammel has been announced as a semifinalist for the 2014 Ms. Hockey award.
“It’s just an honor to be on the list with the other girls. I play with all the other girls in the summer. I’ve played with them all growing up,” Schammel said. “It’s just cool to see that all of our hard work had paid off and we can be in it together. It’s just really an honor.”
Schammel, who has 48 goals and 38 assists this season, will be heading to Minnesota State, Mankato next fall to play for the Mavericks. But before she leaves Red Wing, Schammel is looking to lead the Wingers back to the Class A state tournament, and, maybe, win Red Wing’s first Ms. Hockey award.
Twice the Wingers have had a finalist for the honor, including Rose Alleva in 2010 (Roseville’s Bethany Brausen won the award) and Paige Haley last year (Blake’s Dani Cameranesi was named Ms. Hockey).
Whether or not Schammel makes it into the final five, or even comes home with the award, having a third representative among all the greats is still a positive for Red Wing head coach Scott Haley.
“It’s really nice to have her in the final 10,” Haley said. “It’s a huge credit to her and a huge credit to the program. She’s worked really hard for it and it’s well deserved. We wish for her that she’s in the final five.”