Girls Hockey: Wingers can’t stop No. 1 BreckST. PAUL — A second period letdown led to an 8-4 loss for Red Wing girls hockey team against top-seeded Breck during the Class A girls state hockey tournament semifinals Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
ST. PAUL — A second period letdown led to an 8-4 loss for Red Wing girls hockey team against top-seeded Breck during the Class A girls state hockey tournament semifinals Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wingers gave up five second-period goals and struggled to slow down the Mustangs’ top two players, Milica McMillen and Kate Schipper.
“Defensively, we struggled from the net out,” Red Wing head coach Scott Haley said. “It is what it is.”
Schipper finished with four goals while McMillen, a Ms. Hockey finalist, scored two goals and had two assists.
Despite a poor showing in the second, the Wingers felt they exceeded expectations against a Mustangs’ team with only two losses, both against ranked Class AA teams.
“We had nothing to lose out of this,” Red Wing junior Paige Haley said. “If anything, they had everything to lose. We had a big hiccup in the second period but we played a great first and third period. We’re privileged just to be here.”
Ninth-grader Reagan Haley led the Wingers with two goals and Paige Haley notched a goal and two assists. Sophomore Nicole Schammel had two assists. Senior goalie Lisa Nibbe had a tough second period but responded with solid play in the third and finished with 29 saves.
Breck dominated play for the first 10 minutes of the first period, holding the Wingers without a shot, and scored first on a goal by Leah Schartzman 12 minutes, 44 seconds into the period. But Red Wing held its own against the top ranked team in Class A and started attacking. Reagan Haley tied the game at 1-1 on a power-play goal with 2:57 remaining and followed it up with another at 1:09. Both plays were set up by Schammel.
Red Wing led 2-1 with a minute left in the first period and it looked like the Cinderella story might continue.
“Everyone was getting really excited,” Reagan Haley said of pulling ahead. “We didn’t know that was even possible.”
But McMillen responded with two goals in the final seconds before intermission, including one from beyond the blue line with five seconds remaining.
“That’s a really big deal in a state game,” Reagan Haley said of letting the lead slip away.
The Mustangs momentum carried into the second period as Schipper scored two power-play goals to give Breck a 5-2 lead at 9:55. Senior Cori Fairbanks deflected a shot by senior Elle Anderson past the Mustangs’ goalie to make it 5-3 before Breck poured it on a minute later with two goals nine seconds apart by Prentice Basten and Schipper.
Paige Haley made it 7-4 by slicing through the Mustangs’ defense and sneaking in a wrist shot but Schipper added another power-play goal at 1:46 of the second to seal the victory.
The two teams played to a stalemate in the third period and Breck only outshot the Wingers 37-33 for the game. Red Wing’s top line pressured the Mustangs from start to finish.
“Red Wing gave us all we could handle,” Breck head coach Chris Peterson said. “They have some good players.”
Scott Haley said he was impressed with how well his team performed offensively against the Mustangs.
“I thought the shot differential was going to be much greater than it was,” he said. “My kids gained the (offensive) zone … we’ve got the firepower to match some of these top teams.”
Now, Red Wing will face second-seeded and defending state champion Warroad in the third-place game. Play begins at 9 a.m. at the Xcel Energy Center.
“They’re a strong up north team that will fight,” Paige Haley said. “We have to be ready.”
Breck’s Milica McMillen, a senior and member of USA Hockey’s U18 National Team, is committed to play for the University of Minnesota next year and displayed her wide array of talents throughout the game, including her ability to pump up the crowd. Paige Haley, also committed to the Golden Gophers, said McMillen apologized to her after the game for showboating but as a future teammate she vouched for McMillen’s humility. There are no hard feelings between the two, she said.
“She’s very humble,” Paige Haley said. “She’s very talented. She deserves any recognition she can get. I love that girl.”
Reagan Haley also had high praise for Breck’s Kate Schipper. The two play hockey together in the summer.
“She’s so fun to watch,” Haley said. “She’s my favorite player to watch. It’s different (playing against her). It’s not helping you.”