Girls Hockey: Wingers win Missota openerNo. 2-ranked Red Wing opens conference season with a 5-1 win over Shakopee on Thursday
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
For five years, Shakopee’s Lauren Hespenheide and Amy Menke have been one of the top duos in the Missota Conference.
Building up to Thursday’s conference opener, Red Wing head coach Scott Haley admitted he was nervous.
“It was probably one of the most stressful weeks I’ve had trying to stop No. 6 (Hespenheide) and No. 9 (Menke),” he said.
But with outstanding play at the blue line and a 29-save night by goaltender Ashley Corcoran, the No. 2-ranked Wingers kept the Sabers duo off the scoreboard and opened the Missota season with a 5-1 victory.
“It was a huge accomplishment by the girls keeping (Hespenheide and Menke) off the scoreboard,” Scott Haley said. “We’ve played those two for five years and it may be the first time they’ve gone without a point. That was our goal and I’m happy that the kids bought into it.”
Averaging 6.3 goals per game entering Thursday’s matchup and outshooting Shakopee 21-8 early on, Red Wing (9-0, 1-0 Missota) found itself in unfamiliar territory with the game tied 0-0 after the first period.
In trying to stop a high-powered Sabers offense, the Wingers slowed down its own high-powered attack.
“We were just gripping the sticks a little too tight and we were a little rattled,” said sophomore forward Reagan Haley. “But we calmed down and we went into the second and played like we normally do.”
At 8 minutes, 27 seconds of the second period, Reagan Haley broke away from a Shakopee defender for a 1-on-1 breakaway, sneaking a backhand shot past Sabres goalie Kayrnn Adams for the 1-0 advantage.
“It was good to get the momentum going (with the goal),” Reagan Haley said. “I think that’s what helped to get the girls pumped up and play like we normally do.”
Fifty-six seconds later, Wingers’ defenseman Paige Haley carried the puck into Shakopee territory, chipping in an unassisted goal for the two-goal lead. Then, with 43 seconds left in the period, Nicole Schammel – the state’s leading scorer – popped in her 18th goal of the year on the power play. Emily Stegora had an assist on Schammel’s goal.
With 3.8 seconds left in the second, the Sabers (3-5-1, 1-2 Missota) battled through traffic in front of the Red Wing net as Sarah Kubes scored a late goal to make it 3-1 at the end of the period.
“It was disheartening to let that one in late,” Scott Haley said. “It’s the golden rule to not let one in during the first minute and the last minute.”
But, Scott Haley said, the late goal couldn’t take away from a solid defensive night from the Wingers.
“Looking at it, we were willing to let the other line score for them,” he said. “The main thing; we matched up our top (defensive) unit against (the top offensive line) and ours did a good job shutting them down.”
At the 1:30 mark of the third period, Schammel worked behind the net and found Stegora open in the slot for a goal, putting the momentum firmly in the Wingers’ favor.
Reagan Haley added her second of the game on an empty-net goal with 2:12 remaining.
“The game was way tougher than the score indicated,” Scott Haley said. “I wasn’t feeling good about that game until Reagan got the empty-netter. Shakopee can score three goals like that, and I’ve seen them do it.”
Red Wing is on the road Saturday for a non-conference game at Section 1A foe Albert Lea (6-4).