Girls Hockey: Wingers close season with third-place title
ST. PAUL – As Red Wing seniors Emily Stegora, Nicole Schammel and Hailee Johnson sat by his side, Wingers head coach Scott Haley gushed about the good times he had with the 12th-grade trio.
The times at the rink were outstanding, capped off with a 5-2 victory in the Class 1A third-place game at the Xcel Energy Center, but the moments away from the ice that were more prominent.
“The thing that’s interesting is … the high school memories are great, but I think about when we convinced Emily to play hockey and it was like ‘You want to come to U-8s and try this out?’” Haley said. “And the first time I saw Nicole with her glasses on, hanging out with (Scott’s oldest daughter) Paige in the parking lot and they were both dressed like boys. And with Hailee, it was the same thing as Emily. She had the brothers play hockey and I said, ‘If the brothers played hockey, you can play hockey, too.’”
With stories about Christmas breaks and building friendships among players and families, Saturday’s season-ending victory was the conclusion of between a coach and a group of seniors he has seen come through the ranks.
“This is kind of a last wave here of kids we worked really hard to improve,” Haley said.
While a state title eluded Red Wing again, that final time on the ice was what the Wingers wanted. And getting a win over St. Paul United wasn’t a bad way to wrap things up, either.
“I had mixed emotions (after the game),” Johnson said. “Super happy we got the win – I know it wasn’t where we wanted to be – and being out there the last time with my teammates was great.”
The Wingers admitted it was rough to get started after the heartbreaking 5-4 double-overtime loss to eventual state champions Blake on Friday.
“We definitely wanted that one yesterday and it was really hard, but we came back,” Johnson said. “Warm-ups were a little slow, but we got them going in the locker room. We had to have that mindset that we go all out, this is our last chance.”
Once the puck dropped, it didn’t take Red Wing long to assert its usual dominance on offense. Maddy Hardyman got the Wingers on the board with a goal off an assist from Caitie Turcotte just 2 minutes, 38 seconds into the game.
Then, the offense came on strong from the Wingers’ highly-touted first line. At 5:11, Schammel scored her first goal off a pass from Reagan Haley. Then at 1:18 in the second period, Schammel scored an unassisted backhand goal to make it a 3-0 game.
With seven goals over the last three games, Schammel finished with 20 career goals in the state tournament, one shy of Krissy Wendell’s record mark of 21.
“Our line today wanted to go out moving the puck and having fun together and I think we did that,” said Schammel, who ends her high-school career with 273 goals and 457 points. “Except for the first goal, they were all line mate goals. We don’t go out and try to get those, but we think that’s cool when we do because we work together so well and it proves we’re moving the puck around.”
Reagan Haley and Stegora each tallied goals in the second period. Over the last two seasons, the Haley-Schammel-Stegora line has been arguably the most feared in Minnesota, accounting for 259 goals and 304 assists in that span.
While Schammel and Stegora will continue their careers at Minnesota State, the chemistry between those two and the junior Haley will be hard to duplicate at the next level.
“It was really hard,” Stegora said about playing on that line for the last time, “but I’m just glad we could get a couple line mate goals and it ended up with a win.”
Schammel added, “It’s sad that we won’t get to play with Reagan anymore. I’ve played a lot with Reagan since U-12s, and in summer league we play on a line together. It’s hard, but life goes on and we’ll get to play against each other in the future.”
Taking third at state for the second straight year, the Wingers close the 2013-14 season with a 24-7-0 record.
“This year our team was something really special and I think we proved that this year at the state tournament,” Schammel said. “We have great chemistry and we’re truly like a family.”