Girls Hockey: Wingers put together a complete game
With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the time is coming for Red Wing to start “climbing the ladder,” as head coach Scott Haley likes to say.
The Wingers took a big first step toward postseason play Thursday with an 8-0 victory over Missota Conference rival Shakopee.
“Candidly, I thought this was our best game of the year. They played us tough up there, (a) 3-2 (Red Wing win), and they were up 2-0 at one point,” Haley said. “I think the key to the whole thing (Thursday) was team puck movement and the play of the (defense), not just shutting them down, but just the decision making and being the quarterbacks back there as a unit. If we were going to give a player-of-the-game award, it would definitely be the D-corps.”
The first step taken by Red Wing came 3 minutes, 13 seconds into the game with a Taylor Heise goal that came off of passes from Caitie Turcotte and Hailee Johnson, both defensemen.
“We were definitely open at the point and the forwards saw that and they were moving (the puck) to us,” Johnson said. “That definitely created a lot of opportunities. I think it helped a lot. We were really meshing as a team. We were really moving the puck well.”
At 12:20 of the first period, the puck once again found its way into the net off an assist from a defenseman. This time, Kayla Oberding helped Maddy Hardyman put the Wingers up 2-0.
“We’ve worked real hard on trying to use (the defense),” Haley said. “And ever since the beginning of the holiday tournament, I feel like we’ve been taking steps and getting better but the results really didn’t show it. And today, it finally felt like we played a complete game and the girls did some things that we’ve been preaching about for the last two or three weeks.”
With the Sabers forced to look to the blue line when Red Wing had the puck, which was nearly the entire 17 minutes of the frame, the forwards were given ample opportunities to make things happen underneath. With 17 seconds to go before the first intermission, Emily Stegora made Shakopee pay with the first of her two goals on an assist from Reagan Haley.
But the defense would supply more offense early in the second as Turcotte found Nicole Schammel to make it 4-0 Wingers.
“When the (defense) uses the forwards, the forwards use the (defense),” Turcotte said. “It just works better.”
Stegora and Schammel each scored again before the second intermission with each collecting an assist on the other’s goal. Reagan Haley helped on both markers.
Reagan Haley would add her own goal at 10:51 of the third before Johnson and Turcotte assisted on Hardyman’s second goal at 15:14. Throw in the job they did on the other end – holding the Sabers to 16 total shots, eight of which came in the third period with the game in hand – and the Wingers finally resemble the team that surged up the Class 1A rankings earlier this season.
“I kind of felt like we were ranked too high early on and I told the kids tonight we played like our reputation was early in the year,” Scott Haley said.
Red Wing (12-5 overall, 5-1 Missota) will leave conference play for a day to travel to New Brighton to take on Irondale Saturday. After a road Missota game against New Prague Jan. 14, the Wingers will return home to face Chaska/Chanhassen Jan. 16 in a rematch of the lone conference game Red Wing has lost this season.
And while wins are the goal, it’s still January. And that’s not when the Wingers want to be playing their best hockey.
“We need to take a step with (seven) games left in the season,” Haley said. “We say we don’t want to peak tonight, but we want to start making those steps toward peaking, climbing that ladder. I was just pleased with how we played tonight.”